An HAI, or a healthcare-associated infection, is an infection acquired by a person while being treated in the hospital or doctor's office for another condition. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was estimated that there were approximately 687,000 cases of HAIs nationwide in 2015, each of these incurring expenses to providers and patients and risking patient safety. HAIs place a huge financial burden on facilities, can have enormous impacts on a provider's reputation, and put financial and emotional strain on patients.
As one might expect, HAIs pose a colossal financial threat to hospitals and healthcare providers. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2013, HAIs incur costs of up to $11.5 billion annually. These costs are incurred via the need for added medications, treatments, consultations, procedures, and more. There are also added expenses for staff who will need to devote further time to the same patients, taking time away from other critical tasks and driving up labor costs. On top of all these costs, HAIs can also lead to malpractice lawsuits against providers, which are extremely expensive and damage the facility's reputation.
Another way in which HAIs can affect providers is through patients' use of social media to report their experiences online. In an era when most people carry and use smartphones to connect and comment publicly on social media, healthcare providers must be vigilant to always use best practices to avoid harming patients and, by extension, their reputation. According to a survey conducted by The Spark Report, about one third of consumers use social media sites to seek medical information and share how they feel about their doctors. A provider's online reputation is critical. According to the same survey, 41 percent of respondents said that social media would affect their choice of a doctor, hospital, or medical facility. With those numbers, it is more important than ever that providers prevent the spread of HAIs if they want to keep their doors open.
Lastly, and most importantly, HAIs affect patients. There is a large human toll to be paid as a result of HAIs. The CDC estimates that, on any given day, approximately 1 in 31 patients, or about 3 percent of all patients in the U.S., contract an HAI. In one of the most staggering statistics provided by the CDC's 2015 HAI Hospital Prevalence Survey, it was revealed that, "About 72,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations". Each of these was a person whose life could have been improved if providers had been better prepared to prevent the spread of HAIs. Those who survive HAIs also pay a high a price in the form of huge bills, loss of work, pain, suffering, and even psychological trauma. To serve patients well, HAIs must be stopped.
In an industry full of professionals who have, through the Hippocratic Oath or a similar pledge, vowed to prevent disease whenever possible, the prevention of HAIs is of the utmost importance. According to the Joint Commission, an average of 72 percent of hospitals, "are noncompliant in taking steps to reduce the risk of infections associated with medical devices or equipment," but this can be changed. The enormous financial, reputational, and emotional burdens created by HAIs are, in up to 70 percent of cases, preventable using existing infection prevention strategies.
At CS Medical, we want to partner with healthcare providers by giving you the best tools in the industry and effective training to help eliminate the occurrence of HAIs via our TEE Complete Care® Solution. Together, we hope to make HAIs a thing of the past.