"The fact is, most hospitals don't understand the costliness of infections," said Richard Shannon, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, who was among the presenters at the summit. The costs of these preventable infections in both human and economic terms are staggering.
At Allegheny General, Shannon proved that healthcare-associated infections in generaland central line infections (CLABs) and ventilator-associated pneumonias (VAP) in particularare not inevitable consequences of complex healthcare but are indicative of unreliable processes. He showed that these infections and their consequences can be reduced through work standardization and commitment to safety. As a result, infection prevention became the hospitals fourth most profitable product line. Allegheny General Hospital saved $2.2 million by reducing CLABs and VAPs by 80 percent to 90 percent. Most importantly, 47 lives were saved.
Professionals in infection prevention must learn the business of healthcareand preventing infection and adverse outcomes for those who entrust us with their lives and the lives of loved ones is our core business, said Denise Murphy, RN, BSN, MPH, CIC, vice president of safety and quality at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, who also presented at the summit and who has pioneered work in this area. Good patient experiences are good business, and we know how to deliver that.
Murphy, whose pioneering work shed light on the economics of infection prevention, participated in an initiative at Barnes-Jewish Hospital that made the case for the reinvestment in infection prevention. Evidence-based methods were used to reduce the occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in five intensive care units and show that healthcare-associated infections result in substantial costs to patients and the health care system.
As follow-up to the summit, APIC will prepare a position paper that will communicate the potential economic value of the eradiation of healthcare-associated infections to hospital chief financial officers.
A growing body of evidence proves that reduction of healthcare-associated infections saves lives and money, said APIC president Kathleen Meehan Arias, MS, CIC. It is our goal to build the economic case for infection prevention and communicate it broadly to all who can make a difference.
As part of this effort, APIC will also:
-- Create a tool kit for APIC members that will help them make a clear and comprehensive business case at their facilities and use this knowledge to secure increased resources to further fight HAIs
-- Cultivate relationships with other organizations who share APICs commitment to prove infection prevention saves lives and money
We will provide hospital financial leaders with a clear, concise and compelling message that infection prevention is good for business, said APIC executive director Kathy L. Warye. Most importantly, it saves lives and reduces human sufferingand, as an added bonus it helps to create a healthy bottom line.
APIC also emphasizes the need for ICPs to develop new partnerships within their facilities and to identify leaders who will champion the activity.
"The infection prevention and control professional must be at the epicenter of the institution," added Shannon. "Partnerships and influence need to extend throughout the healthcare organization."
In order to gain the attention of key executives, we must concisely articulate what is needed to do the job well and the impact of doing the job poorly, Murphy added.