Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to Work With Public Health Research Institute in Program to Reduce Hospital-Acquired Infections

NEWARK, N.J. -- Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) announces it has signed a letter of agreement to join the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) in a project to reduce the increasing incidence of hospital-acquired infections in New Jersey, which result in extended and costly hospital stays, serious illness and even death.

PHRI, a scientific and medical research organization which moved to Newark last year after 60 years in Manhattan, estimates that approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients entering a hospital acquire an infection they did not have before admission.

Horizon BCBSNJ will work with PHRI's "Reduction of Hospital Acquired Infections Project" to provide medical expertise and data to the project and assist in education and outreach to New Jersey hospitals.

"As the largest health insurer in New Jersey, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey looks forward to working with the Public Health Research Institute to improve the health status of New Jerseyans by reducing the spread of hospital acquired infections," said Dr. Richard Popiel, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Horizon BCBSNJ.

The project will roll out in two phases. In the first phase, which is now fully operational, PHRI provides participating New Jersey hospitals with free DNA analysis of submitted bacterial and fungal samples to determine genetic relatedness. This information will assist hospital infection control practitioners in developing strategies to prevent the further spread of infections.

For the second phase of the program, PHRI will establish a statewide computerized surveillance system to monitor the emergence of antibiotic resistant hospital-acquired infections throughout New Jersey. The hospital infection control teams will use the results to develop interventions for containment and control and more cost-effective prevention activities.

"We are eager to work with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey on this important hospital project," said PHRI president Lewis Weinstein. "This program has already been well-received by hospitals, and we are confident that the program's objective of reducing hospital-acquired infections can be achieved."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90,000 people die each year in U.S. hospitals from infections obtained after entering the hospital. Such infections are estimated to cost more than $4 billion per year to treat, with much of this cost relating to additional days patients spend in hospitals.

Source: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey