About 2 million Americans develop hospital associated infections (HAIs) each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This InfectionControl.tips articleindicates that HAIs contribute to a staggering $4.5 billion in U.S. healthcare costs annually. What’s even more astonishing is that, with proper infection control measures in place, most HAIs are preventable. Let’s take a look at the economic implications of a poor infection prevention policy.
In the hopes of curbing the financial loss resulting from HAIs, the U.S. government has instituted quality care measures tied to Medicare reimbursements. Under this plan, hospitals are required to disclose HAI data, and hospitals with unacceptable performance rates are subject to Medicare payment reductions. The goal is to improve infection prevention standards in underperforming hospitals by offering financial incentives.
Length of Hospital Stay
HAIs are associated with increased length of hospital stays and higher inpatient costs. The average length of stay for a patient without an HAI is about 5 days. Patients with an HAI are typically hospitalized for 3-15 additional days. These additional days can add as much as $60,000 more in hospital costs. Since Medicare does not provide coverage for treating patients with HAIs, these additional costs would have to be absorbed by the hospital. It is predicted that Medicare penalties will cost underperforming hospitals an excess of $1 million dollars in losses.
Many studies examining the impact of government quality care initiatives on infection rates suggest that payment penalties have not had a significant impact on the reduction of HAIs. Instead, a study by researchers at Stanford University provided evidence that hospitals are using the practice of up-coding to extract the maximum reimbursement. What this means is that instead of reporting HAIs, they claim that patients were already infected when they were admitted. This gives a false impression of declining HAI rates and, at the same time, drives up the direct cost of hospital coverage.
Inpatient stays account for an estimated 60-80% of a member’s annual insurance claims expenses, according to this study examining the cost of HAIs to insurers. It determined that hospitals could save roughly $15,000 by preventing a single instance of infection. Furthermore, researchers extrapolated that if every hospital in the U.S. were to prevent a single infection each year, insurance claims expense could be reduced by $52 million.
The Path Forward
Current surveillance data indicates that, on average, only 40% of healthcare workers consistently adhere to recommended hand hygiene practices, including using disposable hand protection. One way to promote better infection prevention is to couple good hand hygiene practices with great hand protection products.
The Ventyv™ Solution
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