17 September 2013

Hospitals May Lose for Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospitals are beginning to put standards and safety measures in place to prevent hospital infections. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and now other insurance companies refusing to pay for hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), this has forced the issue and hospitals are taking notice. When hospitals have their bottom line at issue, they will take action, which is a good thing for patients,

Although hospitals have balked at safety standards for decades, being able to put a dollar value on associated costs could help providers and payers justify investing in prevention measures. Even with implementation of quality improvement initiatives, an estimated $9.8 billion is spent each year for treating HAIs. This was the finding of a study published online September 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Quoting from the abstract, “With surgical site infections contributing the most to overall costs (33.7% of the total), followed by ventilator-associated pneumonia (31.6%), central line–associated bloodstream infections (18.9%), C difficile infections (15.4%), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (<1 i=""> This is something that should not be ignored.

"Not paying for hospital-acquired infections or errors are an important part of the movement toward paying for quality, not quantity, of care," Mitchell H. Katz, MD, director, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services in California, concurs in an accompanying editorial. This study, however, will enable hospital administrators to better prioritize their spending by allowing them to compare the costs of interventions with the savings accrued by avoiding infections.”

Patient safety should have always been a priority, but has not been as long as hospitals were able to be reimbursed for their lack of safety procedures.

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