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Eliminating Healthcare Related Infections can Save Money and Lives

Career News March 10, 2013

HAI is an acronym for healthcare associated infections. They are caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses that are present in a medical facility. They can be fatal and costly. The occurrence of HAI has increased with advances in medical technology. While advances have made enormous differences in patient care and recovery, infections can also reverse the healing process. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that at least five percent of all hospital patients made contact with some type of HAI. Not only are these infections dangerous for the patient, but increase the costs of running the hospital.

Facilities That Could be at Risk

There are risks of contracting HAI at any medical facility. Extreme prevention measures should be in place to ensure care is provided in a safe manner and avoid any spreading of infections. This ensures safe care for both the staff and patients in all kinds of settings, such as:

•Outpatient surgery
•Long term care centers
•Doctors’ offices
•Clinics
•Assisted living locations

How to Reduce the Risk of HAI

It is no longer acceptable for medical facilities to have numerous cases of HAI outbreaks. There are methods that are effective in fighting these infections. The main method, according to the HHS (US Department of Health and Human Services), is the use of systematic practices. Numerous resources exist, and a wealth of research has been carried out in this area.

Collaboration between Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina and more than thirty hospitals throughout the country has led to the development of DICON (Duke Infection Control Outreach Network). The mission of this organization is to ensure that all medical staff has the educational tools and practices at their disposal in the prevention of HAI. Officials in hospitals have noted a dramatic decrease in the number of occurrences due to these practices. Some infections, such as pneumonia related to the use of ventilators, have seen a forty percent reduction.
SateySurveillor is a new technology being introduced at several hospitals. This was developed by the Premier Healthcare Alliance and is used in conjunction with the DICON resources. Some of the benefits of this program include:

•Reduction in HAI rates
•Shorter hospital stays
•Early drug intervention
•Reduction in the need for screening
•Reduced death rates
•Reduced costs

Hospitals that are currently implementing this technology are:

•Mon General Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia
•Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts
•Lafayette General Medical Center of Lafayette, Louisiana

The combination of SateySurveillor and DICON has increased both the quality and safety of patient care while reducing the cost of treating HAI. This benefits hospital, patients, and staff finances considerably.

States Fighting HAIs

Media Health Leaders reports that hospitals in South Carolina have banded together to fight against HAI through the creation of the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust. This collaboration is a joint effort of three organizations – the Premier Healthcare Alliance, Health Sciences of South Carolina and the South Carolina Hospital Association. Almost $2 million will be poured into the effort over a span of three years, and there will be a website devoted to preventing and reducing HAI incidents, as well as measuring South Carolina’s success against the rest of the nation.

According to the research carried out by the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust, hospitals spend about $40 million every year treating HAI. The trust is devoted to reducing both the occurrence and cost in the state and to expand into other disease prevention in the future.

Hospitals in Arizona are receiving assistance from the Health Sciences Advisory Group in an effort to reduce their incidents of HAI. Twenty-three hospitals are receiving funding from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce the high cost associated with HAI and other problems.

There is a plethora of research available, pointing to best practices and tools in preventing HAIs. In order for patients to protect themselves, they need to know what to look for.

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