Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Decrease in Central Line Infections Saves Lives (And Money)

Quality first and finances follow. That is my mantra because it keeps demonstrating itself over and over in healthcare. The latest example is the Ceneters for Disease Control and Prevention report that central line infections are down over 18% from the previous three years across the country. This is a victory in two respects. First getting the information at all has been a challenge. Remember, if you can't measure it you can't manage it. Second, the fact that we are seeing a significant drop of this magnitude is statistically significant.

There was a feeling for years that hospitals were tracking their infection rates and keeping them secret because they were ashamed of the results. But the truth for many institutions was even worse. They were not tracking them at all. Now that these hospitals have been forced to measure this they have also been forced to manage it and we are seeing the results of these efforts.

It is estimated that there are 1.7 million hospital associated infections each year which claim 100,000 lives and add $30 billion in healthcare costs for treatment. Among these, blood stream infections are the most preventable. The recent drop in them must be attributed to the fact that hospitals must now report these numbers and are therefore more strictly adhere to CDC guidelines.

The good news is that lives are being saved and as a bonus, hospitals are saving money on the treatment costs of preventable infections. Looks like a win-win scenario.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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