New Research Unveils Strong Support for Programs to Reduce HAIs

Despite significant advances made during the last several years, most Americans view the care delivered in America today as merely adequate, with 20 percent rating care as poor compared to only 8 percent who rated care as excellent. Americans expressed rising concern about healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), sepsis and other preventable conditions, according to new research released today by the Partnership for Quality Care (PQC). Citing major fears over the severity and death rates from sepsis and HAIs and the lack of common protocols to address these conditions, 84 percent of Americans surveyed believe reducing sepsis deaths and hospital-acquired infections should be a top priority for hospital staff and resources.

Sepsis, a severe illness where the body is overwhelmed by infections, is actually the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals today. In addition, nearly 2 million people each year develop an infection during their hospital stays that they didn't have at the time of their admission. The PQC research underscores the immediate need for enhanced quality measures in hospitals that will decrease the rate of hospital acquired infections and sepsis, and help improve survival for those who do develop sepsis.

"Quality care requires constant unrelenting focus and patient-centered standardization," says George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and chair of the Partnership for Quality Care. "At Kaiser Permanente, we have seen remarkable decreases in the death rate of sepsis in hospitals after clear and consistent protocols were put into effect. Through the sharing of best practices and collective dedication to providing top-notch, quality care in hospitals, we can achieve better outcomes for patients. If every hospital in the country used similar safety practices, we could cut the sepsis death rate in half and probably save more than 107,000 lives every year."

After hearing a description of sepsis, 83 percent of the PQC survey respondents said they believed it to be a "very serious problem." With the majority of sepsis deaths and hospital acquired infections cases considered largely preventable with appropriate measures to screen, diagnose and treat, Americans want hospitals to do more. The survey also found that more than 80 percent of respondents believe hospitals and providers can have a significant impact on reducing death from sepsis and hospital acquired infections.

"Access to quality healthcare is an issue that Americans care deeply about and the members of the PQC take their call to action very seriously. We know that by sharing what's working now, we can improve the care hospitals and frontline health care workers deliver and we can lower overall healthcare costs," says Dennis Rivera of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and secretary/treasurer of the Partnership for Quality Care.

At the PQC news conference held in Washington, D.C., today to announce the survey results, the organization highlighted examples of successful protocols that decrease the occurrence of sepsis and hospital acquired infections. Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president of quality and care delivery excellence at Kaiser Permanente, discussed how the organization created specialized sepsis teams, gave screening tests for sepsis top priority in hospital labs and cut the death rate from sepsis in half. Justine Carr, MD, chief medical officer of the Steward Health Care System in Boston, described her organization's hospital-acquired infections program, which has reduced the prevalence of hospital acquired infections by more than 50 percent. When members of the public were asked in the survey about the value of these types of programs, respondents indicated a high degree of confidence that the initiatives could be replicated at their local hospitals.

PQC, a national coalition whose members work to advance reliable and affordable access to health care for all Americans, conducted the national survey in January 2011, to measure attitudes on American healthcare and hospital safety. The Benenson Strategy Group measured the opinions of 1,000 people chosen at random via a telephone survey (both landlines and cell phones were called). The margin of error for the entire data set is +/- 3.10 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.