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Financial Benefits

According to the CDC’s National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance (NNIS) system, SSIs were the most common nosocomial infection among surgical patients. Each infection is estimated to increase a hospital stay by an average of seven days (see National Surgical Infection Prevention Medicare Quality Improvement Project Overview for data references). Nationally published studies indicaate among the 42.5 million surgeries performed annually in the U. S.; surgical site infections occur in 2.6% to 5.2% percent of clean extra abdominal surgeries; and up to 20% of intra-abdominal surgeries.

These statistics are supported by a recent study from Pennsylvania, which became the first state to publicly report Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAI’s). PHC4 reported hospital-acquired infections in 2004 led to 1,510 deaths, 205,000 additional hospital days at a cost of $2 billion in additional hospital charges.

"This seminal report demonstrates that the cost and quality implications for potentially preventable hospital infections are astounding," Marc P. Volavka, executive director of PHC4 the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency that published the data, said in a statement. "The consequences clearly are huge," says Volavka ,"Everyone is paying the bill."

The annual PHC4 reports for 2005 and 2006 reveal the impact of HAI’s and Surgical Site Infections (SSI’s) are far greater than previously estimated. The magnitude of the problem was emphasized in a 2005 speech by Patricia Stone, PhD, RN, of Columbia University. Dr. Stone examined more than 150 studies that were conducted from 2001 to 2004 which looked at the simple cost of infections or performed a cost analysis of interventions.

It is interesting to note the similarity in the treatment cost of SSI’s in the PHC4 report for 2005 ($27,740) compared to Dr. Stone’s cost ($25,546); based on her review of 150 studies performed between 2001 and 2004. Applying Dr. Stone’s lower cost of $25,456, the cost of SSI’s for the U.S. healthcare system substantially increases (from prior estimates of less than $2 billion) to between $26 billion and $53 billion annually.

42.5 million surgerieswith a
2.6% SSI rate at an average treatment cost of $25,456=$28 billion
or
5.2% SSI rate at an average treatment cost of $25,456=$58 billion

In addition to Pennsylvania, four other states (Missouri, Florida, Illinois and Virginia) currently have laws requiring hospitals to publicly disclose infection rates. In July of 2005, New York passed a similar bill which awaits the governor's approval. As more states join Pennsylvania, with legislation requiring hospitals to publicly disclose infection rates, a more accurate picture of actual Surgical Site Infection rates and awareness of their associated treatment cost will emerge.

Due to lower surveillance and post operative follow-up, SSI data from the ambulatory surgery segment of over 41 million surgical procedures is not included in these figures. Consequently, the annual treatment cost would be substantially higher if SSI’s from the ambulatory/ outpatient surgery sector were included.

Within this context, the need for implementing high-impact solutions for reducing SSI’s seems obvious. Besides enhanced practices for adhering to aseptic technique, hospitals will need to adopt new evidence-based infection control measures. In the meantime, health care providers will be faced with additional scrutiny and the continuing challenge of reducing SSI’s. This growing awareness along with  the inexorable emphasis on reducing HAI’s, presents a unique opportunity as both the need and challenge to reduce SSI’s becomes more apparent.

In the meantime, health care providers will be faced with additional scrutiny and the resulting challenge of reducing SSI’s will become more apparent. Besides enhanced practices for adhering to aseptic technique, hospitals will integrate new evidence-based infection control measures such as SafePASS to reduce SSI’s. Within this context, the need for a technically superior and cost effective sterile packaging and delivery system seems obvious.

 

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