July 16, 2011

It Is All About The Money for Hospitals

Hit them in the pocket book seems to be the only way the get the attention of Hospitals. This is exactly what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has done and it is having widespread impact. While this needs to be expanded and incentives put in place, it is proving to have an effect and may lead to more actions.

Although I take my shots at the CMS for its euthanasia policies, for once I have to praise them to being on the right path. Those in the medical professions working in hospitals have ignored medically caused infections as just the cost of doing business, when if fact, this is caused by sloppy procedures and carelessness on the part of the people themselves.

Now we need to be concerned about hospital coding procedures and the fraudulent practices of some hospitals. While they say that they are working for coding accuracy, I think this is hospital talk for coding to hide the actual happenings. The survey has one gigantic fault – it did not look at whether the CMS policy actually caused a reduction in infections. The CMS no-payment policy appears to have had a positive impact on hospital infection prevention and control efforts though.

But first, lets use some of the terms for clarity. Infection preventionists is for a medical professional specializing in preventing infections in the hospital settings. This is a recent addition for many hospitals. The next is hospital-acquired conditions (HAC) and this includes much of what is targeted by CMS policy. Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) at present is not targeted by CMS. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) is a large concern and catheter-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) bothers me as well.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is the professional organization which was conceived in 1972 in recognition of the need for an organized, systematic approach to the "control" of infections acquired as a result of hospitalization. Originally called The Association for Practitioners in Infection Control, the name was changed to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. in 1994 to recognize the organization's maturation and evolution into the broader context of health care delivery in this country. This includes the study of non-infectious adverse outcomes and the movement of care outside the traditional health care system, specifically the hospital. They have even expanded to include activities in prevention of or at least minimizing the effects of Bioterrorism.

In the first paragraph, I mentioned putting incentives in place. This could mean that the hospitals that actually (and not by coding) reduce HACs could receive a bonus for a reduction. I'll leave this to the experts to determine a formula, but this could also help. Would I assess a penalty for an increase in HACs – by all means, even up to losing all CMS monies. Patient safety needs to be a number one priority.

The press release is here for your reading.

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