Survey by Premier Healthcare Alliance Validates Need for Better Systems to Protect Hospital Patients from Infections

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Automated surveillance of hospital infections could increase patient protection from hospital infections, according to according to a survey of approximately 150 hospital-based infection control specialists released today by the Premier healthcare alliance. More than 80 percent of the infection control specialists feel the need for improved hospital infection surveillance systems to protect patients.

The survey also suggests that only 13 percent of the responding hospitals utilize automated surveillance, a technology shown to assist in reducing infections. According to the respondents, the main area of concern with current manual surveillance methods is the timeliness of data. Automated surveillance provides timely, actionable information for quick intervention by infection control professionals.

The use of automated, Web-based surveillance has proven to reduce antibiotic overuse and the associated costs, said Dan Peterson, MD, MPH, vice president and medical director at Premier. It also allows hospitals to shift focus from some aspects of data collection and review to enhancing preventative measures and patient care, all of which creates a safer hospital environment and less harm to patients.

Currently, the majority of hospitals are only able to perform targeted manual surveillance in high-risk areas. Automated surveillance enables hospitals to automate their surveillance and documentation of findings related to hospital infections hospital-wide, not just in targeted areas. The efficiency gained allows hospitals to focus their efforts on education and intervention measures which prevent infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 100,000 people die each year from hospital-acquired infections, and an additional 2 million patients, or 6 percent to 10 percent of inpatients, acquire infections during their hospital stay. Over 70 percent of hospital infections have shown some resistance to antibiotics, which are typically administered to half of hospitalized patients. Experts estimate that up to 50 percent of hospital antibiotic use is unnecessary.

In addition, hospitals face tremendous pressure to control infections and their associated costs, and the problem has drawn national attention from regulatory and advocacy groups. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a plan, which would take effect in October 2008, to eliminate reimbursement payments for certain infections that CMS deems preventable.

Source: Premier Inc.

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