Guest Post by Dr. McIntosh, Vice President and Chief Medical Science & Technology Officer at
With the Oct. 1 CMS reimbursement rule upon us, the healthcare industry is increasing its efforts to highlight best practices and medical device innovations to reduce, if not eliminate, the conditions outlined as non-reimbursable. Some of these conditions include hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), which account for an estimated 1.7 million infections in the U.S and approximately 100,000 associated deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In response to the staggering rates of HAI occurrences and the CMS updates, a variety of organizations, including the CDC and National Quality Forum (NQF), have put forth guidelines and campaigns designed to assist hospitals and medical centers in reducing infection rates. To date, these initiatives have significantly reduced the national infection rates. These recommendations include:
- Increasing hand washing before and after contact with each patient;
- Changing gloves when moving from a contaminated site to a clean site on the same patient;
- Using full barrier sterile precautions when inserting devices such as chest tubes and central venous catheters (CVC), including wearing a cap, mask, sterile gown, sterile gloves and using a large area drape that extends well beyond the working field;
- Utilizing chlorhexidine for skin preparation; and,
- Employing a five-item checklist for patients who receive fluids and medications to assure that proper procedures were taken to reduce bacteria colonization.
The CDC guidelines also make very specific recommendations for patient care, especially in regards to medical device insertion practices and procedures. CVCs are one of the most common indwelling medical devices. Infections caused by bacteria that enter a patient’s bloodstream through improper CVC maintenance and insertion are called catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs) and are the second-leading cause of death associated with HAIs, behind pneumonia. In fact, according to research conducted by John Hopkins Medical Institution, CRBSIs are responsible for as many as 28,000 patient deaths in the U.S. each year.
Innovations in the medical device industry, such as advanced catheters impregnated with the antibiotics minocycline and rifampin, have proven to be very effective tools to combat these infections. By bundling the most effective process control measures, like the ones mentioned above, with leading edge technology, the healthcare industry can reduce unnecessary treatment costs, lower infection occurrences and save lives.
Hospital workers at every level should work to embrace these bundled processes and the most advanced technologies to achieve high compliance and, consequently, reduce HAIs and CRBSIs dramatically.