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Hospital infection control affects elderly life span

January 7, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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You already know that the infection control efforts at hospitals can affect the health of your residents. New research finds that older adults admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) are about 35 percent more likely to die within five years of leaving the hospital if they develop an infection during their stay. Preventing two of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), however, can increase the odds that these people will survive, and it also can reduce the cost of their care by more than $150,000, according to a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

“This evidence points definitively to the value of investing in infection prevention,” lead study author Andrew Dick, PhD, senior economist at RAND Corp., said in a statement.

The study looked at outcomes for 17,537 elderly Medicare beneficiaries admitted to 31 hospitals in 2002 to assess the cost and effectiveness of infection prevention efforts. Then, the researchers used an additional five years of Medicare claims data to assess the long-term outcomes and health costs attributed to HAIs.

Although 57 percent of all the elderly ICU patients died within five years, the researchers found that infections made death more likely. For those who developed central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), 75 percent died within five years, as did 77 percent of those who developed ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Effective prevention programs for CLABSI resulted in an estimated gain of 15.55 years of life, on average, for all those treated in the ICU, the study found, and efforts to prevent VAP resulted in an estimated gain of 10.84 years of life, on average.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.

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