Reducing HAIs One External Report at a Time

September 22, 2017 Samantha Relich

On any given day, 1 in 25 people can develop a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) in the United States.

These infections pose a serious risk to the health of patients. They also come with direct medical costs for hospitals and health systems. In 2010, the costs associated with HAIs in Canada were estimated at $129 million. In the US, the annual cost of HAIs ranges from $4.5-5.7 billion. Given the overall risks HAIs pose to healthcare organizations, it's no wonder that their prevention is becoming one of the top concerns in healthcare. 

Research indicates that when healthcare facilities, care teams and individual practitioners are aware of infection problems and take specific steps to prevent them, rates of some targeted HAIs can decrease by more than 70 percent.

But how can you raise awareness about HAIs and how to prevent them at your organization? According to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) in the US and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, one highly effective answer is reporting.

When it comes to reporting, a distinction can be drawn between internal and external reporting. Both, however, have unique value propositions for healthcare organizations looking to raise awareness about HAIs. In this article, we’ll focus on external reporting.

Reasons to report

The National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is the industry’s standard tracking system for HAIs in the US. The NHSN provides medical facilities, states, regions and the country with the data needed to:

  • Identify and isolate infection prevention problems;
  • Benchmark progress;
  • Comply with reporting mandates and,
  • Drive national progress toward the elimination of HAIs.

External reporting to bodies like the NHSN allows healthcare organizations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) to access the data needed to identify areas that require preventative efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate HAIs.

Why HAIs?

When we all interact with healthcare, we do so with a baseline assumption: that we will be helped, not hurt. HAIs represent one of the greatest risks to patients in healthcare and, as such, a core component or quality of care.

As a result, there is now regulatory pressure which in turn leads to executive pressure in hospitals to make sure that revisions are taking place and that processes are being implemented to provide a safe environment for patients, their families and staff.

The reduction of HAIs are also tied to financial reimbursements. Starting in 2014, the HAC Reduction Program in the US requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to adjust payments to the worst-performing 25 percent of hospitals with respect to risk-adjusted HAI quality measures.

There is no shortage of reasons for why hospitals should report HAI data externally. What is less clear-cut, is how to make external reporting efficient enough that it works for the teams tasked with carrying it out. Tools that work with infection prevention teams to make their jobs easier are an increasingly essential solution to making sure that your hospital has the data needed to report effectively and to inform hospital prevention initiatives.

With RL6:Infection, external reporting is made easy by pre-populated fields that meet NHSN requirements and pre-built forms ready to submit to state or regulatory bodies. Learn more about how we can help your IP teams reach their full potential in our whitepaper.  

 

About the Author

Samantha is part of the marketing team at RL and is passionate about sharing healthcare stories. When she's not typing away, you can find her as far from the city as possible with a book and a kayak.

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