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Published Monday, May 21, 2018

Infections acquired in healthcare settings — known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) — occur in 1 of every 25 patients.1 HAIs extend treatment time and hospital stays as well as increase morbidity and mortality levels. In addition to these adverse patient care effects, HAIs create significant burdens for healthcare organizations in the form of associated financial and reputational costs. With several federal initiatives currently under consideration to improve HAI prevention, there's no time like the present for organizations to initiate or enhance their infection surveillance programs.

The cost of HAIs 
In terms of financial impact, HAIs cost hospitals nearly $10 billion annually in direct medical costs.2 The average cost to treat the five most common HAIs is reported at:
 

  • $45,814 for a central line-associated bloodstream infection.
      
  • $40,144 for ventilator-associated pneumonia.
      
  • $20,785 for a surgical site infection.
      
  • $11,285 for a clostridium difficile infection.
      
  • $896 for a catheter-associated urinary tract infection.3
      

Progress report
The good news is that HAI rates appear to be declining, with a 21 percent decrease reported for acute care hospitals between 2010 and 2015.4  The decline is due, in large part, to these various initiatives: 
 

Preventive Measures
In addition to staff adherence to universal infection control precautions, these essential measures help healthcare organizations further reduce the dangers, reimbursement consequences and liabilities associated with HAIs:
 

  1. Environmental Hygiene. Institute an aggressive environmental hygiene program throughout the facility to ensure these goals are met:
    • Educate staff members and physicians about risks associated with frequently contaminated objects and surfaces.
       
    • Limit use of non-critical equipment — such as blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes and EKG wires — to single patients, or provide disposable options.
       
    • Ensure the purchase of waterproof materials that can easily be wiped clean.
       
    • Perform regular risk assessments utilizing the CDC HAI Prevention Toolkits and document corrective measures for noted deficiencies.
       
    • Train housekeeping personnel to thoroughly scrub walls, floors and surfaces at regular intervals with a high-level disinfectant.
       
    • Test surfaces for bacteria and other microbeson a scheduled basis.
       
     
  2. Antibiotic Stewardship. Craft written protocols designed to ensure that antibiotics are prescribed only when medically indicated, in order to curb the proliferation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia and similar pathogens. In addition, the CDC recommends that all acute care hospitals implement an antibiotic stewardship program, containing seven core elements: 1) leadership commitment, 2) accountability, 3) drug expertise, 4) action, 5) tracking, 6) reporting and 7) education.
     
  3. Injection Practices. Increase staff awareness of unsafe injection practices and their role in outbreaks of various diseases. For materials to aid in this effort, see the CDC One & Only Campaign and its multimedia toolkit, containing educational materials for patients and providers in various healthcare settings.
     

By focusing on environmental surveillance, antibiotic usage restraint and safe injection practices, organizations can significantly reduce HAIs and minimize both liability exposure and non-reimbursable costs.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HAI Data and Statistics. March 2, 2016
2 Barnet, S. "25 Things for Healthcare CFOs to Know about HAIs," Becker's Hospital Review, Oct. 5, 2015.
3 Zimlichman, E., et al. "Health Care-associated Infections: A Meta-analysis of Costs and Financial Impact on the US Health Care System." JAMA Internal Medicine. December 9-23, 2013, Volume173:22, pages 2039-46.
4 According to a report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Insurance for Aging Services Providers

With more than 50 years of experience in the healthcare industry, CNA is a trusted leader and top underwriter of healthcare insurance products and services for a wide spectrum of organizations.

As an aging services provider, your mission is to provide comfort, safety, community and quality healthcare to the elderly in a rapidly changing landscape. Whether you're an independent or assisted living facility, continuing care retirement community, adult day care center, skilled nursing facility or in-home services provider, you need an insurance carrier that can help you manage a wide range of exposures and challenges in an increasingly litigious environment.

CNA is a trusted leader and one of the top five underwriters of healthcare insurance products and services for a wide spectrum of organizations. Our experience and dedication has earned us the status of a "preferred provider" with Leading Age and the Assisted Living Federation of America.

We provide targeted coverages that address the unique challenges confronting your aging services facility or company. We offer Healthcare Professional Liability coverage for medical errors and omissions and General Liability coverage for slips and falls and other accidents resulting from your premises or operations. CNA Paramount® for Aging Services provides customized property and crime coverages to meet the evolving demands of your facility's individual needs.

Our professionals dedicated to the aging services marketplace boast a level of technical experience unmatched in the industry. This enables our team to anticipate your needs, help to reduce legal expenses and provide world-class claim services, which include the Centers of Excellence for Aging Services. And many of our nationwide staff of highly experienced risk control consultants have earned the Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management credential and other industry-related designations.

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How can I better prepare for my policy renewal?
Your independent insurance agent is your best resource to ensure your business has the proper insurance coverage as it changes and grows year over year. Review this list of 10 items to prepare for your conversation about how your business and its insurance needs have changed since your policy was issued.

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