Medicare Penalty drives Hospital Infection Prevention Efforts

The 2008 decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to stop additional reimbursement to hospitals for certain healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) has led to improved focus on infection prevention and changes in practice by front-line staff, according to a national survey of infection prevention published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

A team of researchers and public health policymakers led by Grace M. Lee, MD, MPH, from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School, surveyed head infection preventionists (IPs) at 317 acute care hospitals that were directly influenced by the policy change, which was passed to encourage hospitals to get rid of preventable infections. According to the survey results, 81 percent of IPs reported augmented focus on those HAIs targeted by the policy, namely catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and central line-associated bloodstream infections. A majority of IPs reported a boost in surveillance, education, and prevention efforts for HAIs targeted by the CMS policy, particularly for CAUTIs.

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