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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Improving Quality & Saving $$: Let's Talk about Hospital Acquired Infections

Improving Quality & Saving $$: Let's Talk about Hospital Acquired Infections

July 16, 2005

A growing movement around the nation is focussing on preventing hospital acquired infections as an important step to save lives, prevent injuries, and save big money. A new study released this past week in Pennsylvania gives the first concrete estimate of the scope of this major problem -- click here for it.

  • Infections last year accounted for 1,793 deaths and $2 billion in charges in Pennsylvania according to the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council.
  • According to the study, hospitals reported 11,668 infections in 2004, though the actual number could exceed 1115,000 based on billing date.
  • The study found 7.5 of every 1,000 hospital patients developed infections in 2004, but the actual number is likely higher.
  • Mortality among patients who developed infections was 15.4% compared with 2.4% among other patients.
  • The average cost to treat patients who developed infections was $29,000 compared with $8,300 for those who did not.
  • Infections were associated with an additional 205,000 hospital days.
    -- If these results reflect the nation, 125 hospital patients die ech day from infections, at a cost of $50 billion annually.

Organizations such as the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative have made elimination of hospital acquired infections a major priority and have produced dramatic results. In some nations such as Denmark, infections are practially nonexistent. If Massachusetts is looking for ways to lower costs and improve quality, how about a serious, no bull---t, accountable program to eliminate infections?