Coalition wants more funding for infection control tracking system

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A coalition of 30 healthcare and patient safety organizations--spearheaded by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology--wants Congress to provide $31.5 million to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's online healthcare-associated infection tracking system, as well as its infection-control research program.

In a letter sent this week to leaders of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education, the coalition maintains that the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network and Prevention Epicenters Program are "critical" to HAI detection and prevention. HAI complications increase U.S. healthcare costs by more than $30 billion annually, the letter states.

"These programs should be a priority, even in this climate of limited financial resources, because they are uniquely positioned to protect patients and the public from disease and death related to healthcare-associated infections and to detect the transmission of infections that are highly resistant to antibiotics," the coalition writes. "HAIs are among the leading causes of preventable harm and death in the United States. CDC estimates that one in 20 hospitalized patients develops an HAI."

In March, the Premier healthcare alliance released the results of a quality improvement study that showed that since 2008, 300 hospitals participating in its QUEST initiative to avoid patient infections and mishaps had saved roughly 92,000 lives and avoided $9.1 billion in additional costs. In particular, participating hospitals reduced mortality rates from sepsis by 23 percent, saving about 6,800 lives per year. QUEST hospitals also cut harm to patients from central-line blood stream infections, which dropped by 59 percent; urinary tract infections, which fell by 19 percent; and falls and pressure ulcers, which declined by 64 percent.

Earlier this month, we reported that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plans to remove information about eight potentially life-threatening, hospital-acquired conditions from its Hospital Compare website while it develops a new set of conditions. While consumer-oriented advocacy groups, including the Leapfrog Group, criticized the move as a blow against transparency, the American Hospital Association has argued that the information--pulled from Medicare data--was incomplete and potentially inaccurate.

To learn more:
- here's the coalition's letter (.pdf)
- read about the National Healthcare Safety Network (.pdf)
- read about the Prevention Epicenters Program

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