Antibiotic-resistant infections cost the health service an additional €12 million in extra hospital bed-days in 2019, though the figure is likely to be a significant under-estimate because of insufficient data, according to HIQA research.
These infections occur when bacteria and viruses no longer respond to medicine, meaning they become more difficult and more expensive to treat.
The infections resulted in about 215 deaths and almost 5,000 years of full health lost, the report points out.
HIQA analysis of eight selected antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria of public-health concern found that over 4,700 infections occurred across 50 public acute hospitals in Ireland in 2019.
AMR presents a significant threat to public health globally, and is associated with substantial levels of mortality and morbidity.
The financial cost places a significant burden on society, as patients infected with drug-resistant micro-organisms are more likely to remain in hospital for a longer period of time, to have poorer outcomes, and to be unable to work.
HIQA’s Dr Máirín Ryan said: “Antimicrobial resistance places a significant burden, both health and financial, on patients, carers and families.
“To put this in context, this is similar to the burden reported in Ireland for certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.”
She said there was a need for enhanced surveillance of the problem in Ireland.
“Enhanced surveillance and expanded public-health capacity would enable earlier identification and management of AMR threats, as well as inform investment decisions by the Department of Health and the HSE.
Other important resistant micro-organisms were not examined in this study, due to the lack of available data, meaning the €12 million figure is a significant under-estimate of the total annual cost of managing all resistant infections in Ireland, HIQA has said.