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Hospitals profit when patients develop bloodstream infections
Date:5/22/2013

rectly gauge cardiovascular measurements such as central venous blood pressure. But the tubes are easily contaminated and each year roughly 80,000 patients with central lines become infected. Some 28,000 are estimated to die nearly as many as those who die from breast cancer annually and the cost of treating them may be as high as $3 billion nationally, according to experts.

While the number of infections has been falling nationwide as a result of checklists and other safety measures developed and tested by Pronovost, he says less money is currently available from the government to put interventions in place, and that a good source to turn to would be private insurers who have the most to gain financially from them.

The researchers reviewed records on patients admitted to an ICU at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, from January 2009 through Jan. 1, 2012. Over that time, there were 16 CLABSIs. The researchers compared the data gathered from both the hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Hawaii to determine costs, payments and profit margins for each infection. They then compared that information to data from a control group of 64 ICU patients who were not infected.

Results showed that the hospital's average profit margin for treating an infected patient was $54,906, while the margin for treating a similar uninfected patient was just $6,506, on average.

To their surprise, Hsu and his colleagues also found that private payers not government insurers Medicare and Medicaid pay the most to hospitals when an infection occurs. On average, they found that hospitals lost money in treating each infected patient when the government was paying an average of $14,000 per infection while they made $216,000 on average (before expenses) when private insurers were footing the bill.

Pronovost says this situation is driven largely by a policy that reimburses hospitals more for patients who are considered more complicated to t
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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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