Hospital leaders must balance competing priorities on a daily basis. Improving the quality of care and increasing patient satisfaction are ever-present goals. At the same time, there is pressure to reduce costs and protect the bottom line.

The prevalence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in hospitals has major impacts on both clinical and financial outcomes, but it is difficult for organizations to recognize the full range of direct and indirect effects. Moreover, effectively addressing the root causes of HAIs at a facility typically requires a bundle of unique solutions tailored to the organization’s specific needs, goals, and culture.

GOJO recently released a white paper, “Understanding the Cost of HAIs and Building a Culture of Prevention,” to help facility cleaning executives and environmental services professionals. According to their paper:

“As a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and previous healthcare reform legislation, reimbursements are increasingly tied to clinical outcomes. Today, hospitals are not reimbursed for the cost of treating HAIs, or caring for patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are now required to withhold a percentage of reimbursements for individual hospitals based on quality metrics such as readmission rates and patient satisfaction surveys.

“Due to the lack of reimbursement for HAI-related care, these infections cause major financial losses for hospitals. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council1 examined statewide data from 2006—2007 and determined that the average cost to the hospital of caring for a patient without an HAI is $35,000. In contrast, the cost of treating a patient with an HAI is more than $190,000.

“Beyond the direct financial impact, there is also a significant opportunity cost associated with HAIs. An infected patient can be confined to a hospital bed for days or weeks beyond their initial treatment timeline, and the facility will not be reimbursed for the associated costs. Throughout this period, the hospital will not be able to place a new, revenue-generating patient in that bed. The Pennsylvania study determined that the average length of stay for a patient who contracts an HAI is 19.7 days—compared with only 4.4 days for a patient who does not acquire an HAI.

“Other indirect costs of HAIs include the increased risk of malpractice litigation and public relations concerns. In today’s increasingly consumer-driven healthcare market, negative media coverage of a hospital’s cleanliness and safety can have a significant impact on the organization’s ability to attract patients and generate revenue.”

To help simplify the information, GOJO also released the following infographic.