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New Healthcare Law Means Big Penalties for Hospitals with High HAI Rates

Hospital feesHealthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are one of the hottest topics in healthcare right now. Over 2,000,000 patients in the United States acquire HAIs, which adds an average of 8 days to the hospital stay and causes approximately 99,000 deaths per year.6 The total annual cost to treat these HAIs in the United States is between $35.7 billion and $45 billion with the average in hospital cost per patient between $20,549 and $25,903.

 

"According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, this would result in an average penalty of $208,643."Although hospitals are making strides to reduce the risks of HAIs, the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 has pushed this focus into high gear. The PPACA has specific patient protection provisions aimed at reducing HAIs throughout acute-care hospitals. First, the new law has financial penalties for hospitals with the highest rates of HAIs. For Medicare payments, there is a 1% cut across the board in Medicare payments to hospitals in the top quartile of national HAI rates starting in 2015. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, this would result in an average penalty of $208,643.10 Starting July 1, 2012, Medicaid is prohibiting payments to hospitals for specific HAIs stated in the Medicaid policy. Second, the new law requires mandatory public reporting of HAI rates for all hospitals. Public reporting of HAIs is a powerful tool in holding hospitals accountable for reducing HAI risks and keeping patients safe and improving the quality of care. Public reporting also encourages consumers and employers to choose high quality, low-cost care. 

Although many hospital administrators worry they cannot afford to implement comprehensive infection control strategies, the truth is that hospitals cannot afford to do otherwise. Several studies have shown that reusable blood pressure cuffs are a major source of bacterial contamination and play a large role in the spread of HAIs in hospitals.1,2,3,4,5 Furthermore, disposable blood pressure cuffs have shown to be an effective approach to reducing the transmission of HAIs, when dedicated for single-patient use. 8,9

To show the potential costs savings of using disposable cuffs over reusable cuffs, SunTech has created a Disposable Cuff ROI Calculator. This calculator estimates the total costs of HAIs at a hospital from reusable cuffs and compares this cost to the total cost of dedicating a disposable cuff to each patient. Since it is the hospital’s responsibility to pay for HAIs that occur during a hospital stay, dedicating a disposable cuff to each patient will not only help reduce the spread of HAIs, it is an integral part of an effective infection control strategy and will help protect a hospital’s bottom line.

REFERENCES

  1. Base-Smith. V. “Nondisposable Sphygmomanometer Cuffs Harbor Frequent Bacterial Colonization and Significant Contamination By Organic and Inorganic Matter.” American Assoc. of Nurse Anesthetists Journal. 1996; 64(2): 141-145.
  2. Beard, M.A., A. McIntyre, P.M. Roundtree. “Sphygmomanometers as a Reservoir of Pathogenic Bacteria.” The Medical Journal of Australia. October 1969; 2: 758-60.
  3. McCaughey, Betsy. “Unnecessary Deaths: The Human and Financial Costs of Hospital Infections” 3rd Ed. 2008.
  4. Muto C.A, J.A. Jernigan, B.E. Ostrowsky, H.M. Richet, W.R. Jarvis, J.M., Boyce, B.M. Farr. “SHEA Guideline for Preventing Nosocomial Transmission of Multidrug-Resistant Strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus.” Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. May 2003; 24(5): 362-386.
  5. Myers, M.G. “Longitudinal Evaluation of Neonatal Nosocomial Infections: Association of Infection with a Blood Pressure Cuff.” Pediatrics. January 1978; 61(1): 42-45.
  6. Schwegman, David. “Prevention of Cross Transmission of Microorganisms is Essential to Preventing Outbreaks of Hospital Acquired Infections”. 
  7. Scott II, R. Douglas. “The Direct Medical Costs of Healthcare-Associated Infections in U.S. Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention.” Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases Coordinating Center for infectious Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 2009.
  8. Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, 2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/isolation2007.pdf
  9. Walker, N., R. Gupta, J. Cheesbrough. “Blood pressure cuffs: friend or foe?” Journal of Hospital Infection. 2006. 63: 167-169.
  10. US Department of Health & Human Services/Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Data Compendium, 2009 Edition.

 

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