Groups Put Pressure on Hospitals To Reduce Patient Infections
Physicians, patient safety advocates and federal officials have begun "mobilizing to prevent the infections that have stricken an increasing number of hospital patients over the past three decades," USA Today reports.
According to a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of reported bloodstream infections related to catheters that occur in hospitals has almost tripled since 1975, and CDC estimates that about 80,000 such infections occur in intensive care units annually.
In response, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends that hospitals adopt policies that require physicians and nurses to wash their hands and implement other preventive measures. A 2004 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians wash their hands only 57% of the time.
In addition, CMS in August announced a new rule under which Medicare after September 2008 no longer will reimburse hospitals for the treatment of preventable errors, injuries and infections that occur in the facilities. Patient safety advocates praised the rule but raised concerns that the regulation does not include infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Donaghue, USA Today, 10/16).