Healthcare-Acquired Infections Affect More Than Just Patients

5 Healthcare-Acquired Infections That Threaten More Than Just Patients’ Health

Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs)

The problem of HAIs is complex and its human toll is tragic. According to a study published in the Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, each year 2 million patients suffer from HAIs in the USA alone, leading to more than 90,000 deaths. In addition to the devastating loss of life, HAIs are a significant area of financial concern with the overall direct cost of HAIs to hospitals ranging from $28 to $45 billion each year, and just the five most common Healthcare-Acquired Infections cost the US $9.8 billion annually.

For healthcare systems, the associated financial costs have crippling ramifications, including reductions in Medicare reimbursement for hospitals that score in the bottom quartile on CMS-mandated Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HAC) reviews. In addition to these reductions, the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program was enacted as a value-based-purchasing program for Medicare that supports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ linking Medicare payments to healthcare quality, which could lead to further financial impacts.

Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program

Essentially, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reduces overall Medicare payments for hospitals that rank in the worst-performing quartile of all hospitals on measures of HACs. Hospitals with a total HAC score greater than the 75th percentile of all total HAC scores will receive a 1-percent payment reduction.

This payment adjustment applies to all Medicare discharges for the entirety of the applicable fiscal program year when CMS pays hospital claims. This means that any reduction in a hospital’s HAC score could be the determining factor for possible payment reductions; highlighting the need for maximum infection control when it comes to the medical devices used in healthcare facilities.

Even though non-contact thermometers have implied infection control benefits, they are actually less accurate and in many cases, not recommended for clinical use. Moreover, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology published a study showing that 24% of healthcare workers carry C. diff on their hands, even after disinfecting, meaning that non-contact thermometers provide inaccurate readings and unsafe conditions for both hospital staff and their patients.

When thermometers are used on multiple patients by health care providers, the potential for transmission of pathogens from patient-to-patient and patient-to-provider significantly increases. Even with the most stringent cleaning and sterilization protocols, it is nearly impossible to ensure a contaminant-free device for each use.

Medical Indicators’ Solution

Medical Indicators’ single-use thermometers virtually eliminate the spread of germs by providing a clean instrument that is used once and then discarded. Disposable medical products, such as our single-use thermometers, virtually eliminate the risk of spreading germs and infections, as well as the rising costs associated with Healthcare-Acquired Infections. Match that with our low cost of ownership and our thermometers essentially pay for themselves. 

Medical Indicators’ clinically accurate, single-use thermometers provide a cost-effective and practical solution for all healthcare facilities.

What Are Healthcare-Associated Infections and How Can Hospital Systems Prevent Them?

According to the CDC, in any given day, one in 31 hospital patients will contract at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Healthcare-associated infections are infections that patients acquire in a clinical setting, while receiving medical care for another condition. HAIs most commonly transfer from one patient to another because the medical tools used on the first patient were not properly sanitized and disinfected before being used on a second patient. Several critical steps must be taken when working with medical devices, especially reusable devices that are used on multiple patients, in order to prevent the spread of HAIs.

In addition to risking a patient’s health and well-being, hospitals will face severe penalties if they expose patients to hospital-acquired conditions. In 2017, more than 22% of hospitals that were evaluated were penalized by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services because patients developed an HAI at their facility. OBP Medical released an article titled Updates on Medicare Penalties for Hospital-Acquired Conditions explaining the types of infections that are commonly spread in hospitals (e.g., C. diff, pneumonia, MRSA), as well as the penalties associated with such HAIs. When working in this type of environment, it is imperative that every step is taken in order to ensure that patients receive the best and safest care possible.

Staff must sterilize and disinfect all reusable medical devices after each use to aid in the prevention of infection transfer. Although proper cleaning can help, there is an even better way to prevent the spread of HAIs. In lieu of cleaning and disinfecting reusable medical instruments, healthcare facilities can make the switch to disposable medical devices instead. Single-patient medical devices virtually eliminate the spread of healthcare-associated infections because they are used one time, with one patient, and then the device is discarded. They will only reduce the risk if used correctly, so it is crucial that they are used exactly as directed – meaning that it should be used only once, with only one patient, and then discarded immediately after use. Disposable medical devices can aid in making hospitals a safer place for patients, while also eliminating the risk for HAI-related penalties.

There are certain devices, such as disposable thermometers, that can be extremely helpful when it comes to preventing healthcare-associated infections. Medical Indicators understands how important it is for doctors, nurses and patients to use a product that is both safe and accurate. Medical Indicators’ disposable thermometers, including NexTemp®, Tempa•DOT®, and TraxIt®,  provide highly-accurate readings, while also eliminating the risk of exposure to healthcare-associated infections.