In previous posts we’ve written about hospitals incorporating new infection control strategies, like dedicating a disposable blood pressure cuff to a patient during their stay, largely to help reduce operational costs.The goal of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 is to reduce healthcare costs while improving the quality of patient care. Even though reducing Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) is a top priority at hospitals nationwide, the new healthcare law is also financially incentivizing hospitals to lower readmission rates. Starting in October 2012, hospitals with the highest readmission rates face up to a 1% cut in Medicare pay. By October 2014, hospitals with the highest readmission rates can lose up to 3% of their Medicare reimbursements.
"By October 2014, hospitals with the highest readmission rates can lose up to 3% of their Medicare reimbursements."A recent study has now linked HAIs to an increase in hospital readmission rates. According to the study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, hospital patients with a clinical culture positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile (C. diff) were 40% more likely to be readmitted to a hospital within a year of initial hospitalization. Patients infected with Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci (VRE), were 67% more likely to be readmitted. The average time to readmission for culture positive patients was 27 days compared to 59 days for non-infected patients. The authors of this study collected data over 8 years at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where they analyzed 136,513 adult patients. The cultures were administered more than 48 hours after hospital admission, which means infection was acquired in the hospital.
Although most hospitals have continued to adopt stringent infection control policies and procedures, it is important that hospitals continue to find ways to minimize the unnecessary exposure of patients to HAIs. Increased admissions, especially within a 30 day time period, can have a financial impact on hospitals since Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) limit payments to only the first admission for a patient readmitted within 30 days for several diseases.
Disposable cuffs have shown to be an effective approach to reducing the transmission of HAIs. Dedicating one disposable cuff to each patient not only helps reduce the spread of HAIs, it could also reduce readmission rates, and can help protect a hospital’s bottom line.
Emerson CB, Eyzaguirre LM, Albrecht JS, Comer AC, Harris AD, Furuno JP. “Healthcare-associated infections and hospital readmissions.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. 2012 Jun; 33(6): 539-44.