Four hospitals in southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee reduced healthcare-acquired infection rates (HAIs) a collective 41 percent within 90 days after implementing a simple handwashing "action plan." According to reporting from HealthcareFinanceNews.com, the reduced HAIs resulted in a savings of $1.2 million in costs.

VHHA Services, a subsidiary of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, coordinated a study among the four hospitals to determine if adding a persistent hand sanitizing lotion and a persistent surface disinfectant to current practices reduces HAI rates. The products used in the study provided persistent effects that kill germs on hands for four hours and on surfaces for up to 28 days.

Health care workers at the four hospitals were instructed to apply sanitizing lotion at the start of their workday and reapply every four hours. They were told to continue washing their hands or using an alcohol sanitizer as recommended in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hand Hygiene Guidelines. Environmental Services employees were instructed to apply the surface disinfectant to "touch points" only. Rooms were disinfected after patient discharges and common hospital areas were treated monthly.

The study ran three months and compared HAI rates during the study to the three months prior to the study period. After the three-month trial period, results showed an average of 41.5 percent fewer infections per 1,000 patient days. The individual hospitals reduced infections 29.4 percent, 32.4 percent, 50 percent and 54.2 percent respectively.

The CDC estimates the average cost of an HAI is $20,549, which results in a cost savings estimate of $1.2 million for the 59 HAIs prevented. The cost to implement both products is less than $15,000 for three months.

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