Elderly patients admitted to ICUs are about 35% more likely to die within five years of leaving the hospital if they develop an infection during their stay, according to a new study.
Preventing two of the most common healthcare-associated infections CLABSI and pneumonia caused by ventilators can increase the odds these patients survive, and reduce the cost of their care by more than $150,000, according to a study published in the January 2015 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.
Any death from preventable infections is one too many, senior study author Patricia Stone, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University School of Nursing, Manhattan, said in a news release. Weve known for decades what works to prevent infections and save lives. Now, our study shows just how much money can be saved by investing in prevention.
The study looked at outcomes for 17,537 elderly Medicare patients admitted to 31 hospitals in 2002 to assess the cost and effectiveness of infection prevention efforts. Then, the researchers used an additional five years of Medicare claims data to assess the long-term outcomes and costs attributed to healthcare-associated infections.
While 57% of all the elderly ICU patients died within five years, researchers found that infections made death more likely. For those who developed CLABSI, 75% died within five years, as did 77% of those who developed ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Effective prevention programs for CLABSI resulted in an estimated gain of 15.55 years of life on average for all patients treated in the ICU, the study found. Simple infection prevention measures include hand washing before handling the catheter and immediately changing the dressing around the central line if it gets wet or dirty.
Efforts to prevent VAP resulted in an estimated gain of 10.84 years of life on average for all patients treated in the ICU, according to the study.
On average, the ongoing cost of running an infection prevention program in the ICU is about $145,000, the study found. Prevention efforts reduced ICU costs by $174,713 per patient for each instance of CLABSI, and by $163,090 for VAP.
This evidence points definitively to the value of investing in infection prevention, lead study author Andrew Dick, PhD, senior economist at RAND Corporation, said in the release.
The paper is titled: A decade of investment in infection prevention: A cost-effectiveness analysis, and it was published in the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. Elaine Larson, PhD, RN, FAAN, CIC, associate dean for research at Columbia Nursing and professor of epidemiology in nursing at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is a co-author. Other co-authors are Eli N. Perencevich, MD, MS, Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine and Iowa City VA Medical Center; Monika Pogorzelska-Maziarz, PhD, MPH, Jefferson School of Nursing, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia; and Jack Zwanziger, PhD, Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago.