With reputations and reimbursement rates at stake, healthcare facilities are taking a closer look at how to best reduce hospital-acquired infections
By Kassandra Kania
As the economic burden of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) continues to grow, more healthcare facilities are ramping up efforts to lower their HAI rates — with the ultimate goal of eradicating nosocomial infections completely. Medicare and Medicaid will not cover hospital-acquired infections, but these government restrictions are not the only catalyst for change: Consumers can now access state HAI records online and use that information to make hospital choices.
Today, the most common hospital-acquired infections are Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) — bacteria that live in the body and are resistant to certain antibiotics. This resistance makes infection challenging to treat and poses special risks for people who are ill. According to environmental services managers, hospital-acquired infections are associated with the over-prescription of antibiotics.
“We’re in a society where we just want to give a prescription and medicate,” says Laurie Tostenson, training and quality assurance manager for the housekeeping department of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, N.H. “When used appropriately, antibiotics are a good thing. But when your normal intestinal flora is disturbed by antibiotics, it can have a negative impact on some patients.”
Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.