Friday, February 25, 2011

Hospital Germs Spike Health Care Costs

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is releasing a report that looks at the rate of healthcare-associated infections and their great influence on healthcare costs and hospital readmission.

The study found that 29.8 percent of patients who acquired an HAI were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days while non-infected patients were only readmitted 6.2 percent of the time.

Stephanie Suran, spokesperson for PHC4, says this data shows their can be an improvement in Pennsylvania’s hospitals.

“These differences suggest that reducing these infections may present opportunities for improved patient care and restraining costs,” Suran says.

Another area the study focused on was Medicare costs to those patients 65 years or older who contracted an infection during their stay. For a Medicare patient with an HAI, healthcare costs skyrocketed from an average of $6,600 to $20,000. Also, 29.5 percent of those infected were readmitted while only 8.7 percent without an HAI were readmitted.

The data found that only 1.2 percent of patients hospitalized in 2009 contracted an HAI but Suran says the profound healthcare costs mean that quality care can still be improved.

“It’s important to point out from our data that we cannot tell with certainty how much of the initial infection contributes to their readmission,” Suran says. “But it does seem to present opportunities for quality improvement and it’s an area for hospitals to take a second look at.”

This was the first year the PHC4 studied HAI’s but Suran says the council will continue to look at this data and continuing trends in the future.

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