CA Cuts Costs and Saves Lives by Preventing Hospital-Related Infections

NCHC Writers
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A nearly two-year-old initiative in California is credited with both reducing hospital-related infections and cutting costs.  Since its launch 19 months ago, the initiative is credited with cutting ventilator-associated pneumonia 41%. Urinary tract infections related to catheters fell 24% last year, and cases of blood poisoning dropped 11%. The lower rates have saved an estimated $11 million in healthcare costs.  Leaders of the statewide initiative say they have brought hospitals together to exchange ideas and strategies for fighting the infections. The solutions, they say, are relatively easy, if often overlooked: washing hands, brushing patients’ teeth more frequently, sterilizing equipment, eliminating unnecessary procedures, closely following safety checklists and documenting every step along the way.

Federal officials are watching California’s experiment to see whether it produces the sort of long-term results seen in other states that have invested in anti-infection efforts. They say the cost of inaction is too high to ignore.  “Nobody should go into a hospital and wind up sicker than when they went in,” said Dr. James Cleeman, a federal expert on healthcare quality. “It is a challenge that the entire healthcare system needs to address to make care safer.”

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