Hospitals often inadequately fund infection control, a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to the problem, according to a recent survey by the Irving, Texas-based VHA health care cooperative.
About one third of the hospitals surveyed had less than the recommended ratio of one infection-control staffer or full-time equivalent to 100 patient beds. The two largest impediments to better performance in infection control were insufficient resources and a lack of physician support, the VHA said in a summary of the study, released today.
Thirty-one hospitals from 13 states responded to the survey. They ranged in size from 50 to more than 500 beds.
"Devoting more staff to infection-control activities in hospitals will reduce infections and have a significant clinical and financial benefit, given that health care-associated infections have a significant economic, social and clinical cost," said John Hitt, M.D., vice president of clinical improvement for VHA.
The VHA said industry experts estimate hospital-acquired infections add $7 billion to the national healthcare bill. Hitt said the cost of a single patient's hospital-acquired infection can range between several thousand dollars to more than $50,000 per incident.
The most common targets of infection-control efforts of those facilities surveyed were surgical-infection prevention, hand hygiene, catheter-related bloodstream infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia.