Cut down on infections to reduce readmissions

Cutting down on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) could reduce readmissions, according to a study published in the June issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Researchers from the Oregon State University and University of Maryland found a strong link between HAIs and patient readmissions after an initial hospital stay at a large urban tertiary care facility. Patients with Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), or Clostridium difficile after more than 48 hours following hospital admission were 60 percent more likely to be readmitted within a month, compared to patients who had negative or no clinical cultures. They also were 40 percent more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within a year.

"The potential to reduce readmissions along with other known benefits--lower patient morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs--may provide additional impetus to reduce healthcare-associated infections," lead study author Jon Furuno, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University, said in a research announcement

Based on this research, study authors suggested hospitals could target patients with positive HAI cultures to provide additional discharge planning in hopes of reducing readmissions.

"Patients with a healthcare-associated infection continue to be readmitted at higher rates than those whose cases were not associated with an infection," Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council Executive Director Joe Martin said last month. A council report found that 21,319 of the 1.89 million patients admitted to Pennsylvania hospitals in 2010 acquired an infection. That is a rate of 1.13 percent, down from 1.20 percent the previous year.

For more information:
- see the study
- here's the research announcement

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