Leapfrog Group Survey Reveals 87 Percent of U.S. Hospitals Dont Take Recommended Steps to Prevent Avoidable Infections

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  Eighty-seven percent of U.S. hospitals surveyed by the Leapfrog Group do not have all of the recommended policies in place to prevent many of the most common hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), according to findings issued today. The results are from an analysis of 1,256 hospitals that participate in the Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey, an annual rating system that provides an up-to-the-minute assessment of a hospitals quality and safety practices.

Each year as many as 2 million people one out of every 20 who obtain care at an American hospital contract an infection during their care; 90,000 of them die. On average, HAIs add more than $15,000 to a patients hospital bill, amounting to more than $30 billion a year wasted on avoidable costs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Aug. 18 that the Medicare program will no longer provide reimbursement for the additional costs incurred when beneficiaries experience certain hospital-acquired conditions, such as certain infections. 

The Leapfrog Survey asks hospitals about their practices related to the prevention of four common infections: aspiration and ventilator associated pneumonia; central venous catheter related bloodstream infection; surgical site infection; and influenza (staff vaccination against the flu). The survey also asks about handwashing, which can impact the rates of several different kinds of HAIs. For each of these areas, the survey inquires about a hospitals efforts on infection surveillance (tracking the frequency and severity of the infection in question), whether management is held accountable for preventing the infection, the hospitals level of investment in improving its ability to reduce the preventable infection, and whether it is taking further action to detect and prevent the infection.

The Leapfrog Group, representing major corporations and public agencies that buy health benefits, finds an alarmingly low level of full compliance with any of its recommended standards for preventing certain avoidable infections.

The following is the percentage of hospitals with full compliance with preventive practice according to infection type:

-- Aspiration and Ventilator Associated Pneumonia: 38.5 percent

-- Central Venous Catheter Related Bloodstream Infection: 35.4 percent

-- Surgical Site Infection: 32.3 percent

-- Influenza: 30.7 percent

Of note, just 35.6 percent of hospitals have full compliance with hand hygiene practices.                                                                                       

Herb Kuhn, deputy administrator at CMS, stated, A continued focus on hospital acquired infections provides critical information as both public and private purchasers implement payment policies to provide incentives for improvement in this area.

Jill Berger, chair of The Leapfrog Group and vice president of health and welfare for Marriott International, Inc., stated, There are protocols that every hospital should have in place to prevent infections. Unfortunately, many hospitals are missing the mark and that spells trouble for everyone: the patient, the hospital and the healthcare system.

Leapfrogs hospital survey helps identify significant shortcomings in hospitals practices to reduce preventable infections. The healthcare system needs now to agree to standardized measures to assess the frequency and impact of preventable infections. Without such measures, it will be difficult to identify the best ways to put an end to hospital-acquired infections, stated Suzanne Delbanco, CEO of The Leapfrog Group.

A full analysis of the data gathered from this years Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey will be released on Sept. 18.

Source: The Leapfrog Group