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Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program

What Does It Mean for Your Hospital?

RD-Hospital-LightStarting October 1, 2014, hospitals with the highest rates of nosocomial infections will suffer substantial financial penalties – will your institution be one of them?

On any given day in the United States, one out of every 25 hospital patients has at least one HAI. According to CDC estimates, approximately 721,800 HAIs occurred in acute care hospitals during 2011. Pneumonia and inpatient surgical site infections were the primary causes of HAIs that year, each associated with more than 157,000 infections.

In 2001, about 75,000 hospital patients with nosocomial infections died during their hospitalizations.

There are more than 50,000 cases each of catheter-associated UTIs and surgical site infections, and more than 30,000 cases of blood infections associated with central lines. However, the vast majority of HAIs are hospital onset of C. difficile infections with more than 107,000 infections each year. These infections occur in all locations within the hospital setting.

Hospitals with HAIs Now Incur Medicare Penalties

Under the new Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, created by the 2010 health law, Medicare will penalize hospitals in the top quartile of HAIs by decreasing funding to that institution by 1 percent every year. This could mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars for about 750 hospitals across the United States. In all, the sanctions could total $330 million over the course of one year.

This program covers only hospitals for now, but it may expand soon to outpatient clinics and nursing homes. The intent of the program is to reduce every patient’s risk for developing an HAI.

Threat of CMS penalties means hospitals must step up efforts to control nosocomial infections in all locations within the facility, especially in patient care areas. Hiring additional workers to assess and manage HAI risk is one solution. Another is hospital workers must become more vigilant about hand washing and cleaning surfaces.

Technology has changed every aspect of hospital care, including housekeeping. Gone are the days when the patient room was nothing more than a bed, a nightstand and perhaps a television. Back then, patients traveled to sparsely furnished diagnostic and treatment areas within the institution. Today’s patient care areas are packed with high tech equipment and mobile devices, all providing ample surface area on which viruses and bacteria can settle.

What You Can Do to Reduce HAIs and Avoid Costly Penalties

Your patients and your institution rely on you and your co-workers to reduce the risk for HAIs and their associated penalties. There are several initiatives you can keep in mind to reduce the spread of nosocomial infections, according to the CDC some of them include:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Injection safety
  • Medication storage and handling
  • Cleaning and disinfection of devices 
  • Environmental surfaces
  • Improved sterilization techniques

Prepare your institution for the upcoming changes in health care by implementing or strengthening an HAI prevention program. Your patients and hospital administration will thank you.

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David Engelhardt

About the Author

David Engelhardt has over 26 years of experience in software and hardware solutions development in healthcare and manufacturing, with a particular focus on mobile technologies. David is the founder and President of ReadyDock Inc. He is passionate and committed to providing safe, and workflow efficient methods to enable clinicians and patients to enhance care through the use of innovative technologies. In the small window of time when he is not working or spending time with his amazing wife and daughter, he spends his time playing USTA tennis, collecting vinyl records, and shaping music and sound in his recording studio.

Tags: Managing Disinfection, Infection Prevention, Healthcare Acquired Infection, HAI