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CLABSI Reductions Saved $1.8B in Healthcare Costs, Says CDC

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2011

Proving that dreaded hospital central line bloodstream infections (CLABSI) can be reduced, a federal report shows a decline in intensive care unit bloodstream infections of 58% in 2009 compared with 2001.

"Preventing bloodstream infections is not only possible, it should be expected," said Thomas R. Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the new statistics.

"Meticulous insertion and care of the central line by all members of the clinical care team, including doctors, nurses, and others at the bedside is essential. The next step is to apply what we've learned from this to other healthcare settings and other healthcare-associated conditions, so that all patients are protected," he said.
But these kinds of infections are still occurring, according to the CDC report. In 2009, central line infections occurred 60,000 times in patients treated in healthcare settings outside the ICU, such as hospital wards and kidney dialysis clinics. About 23,000 of these occurred in non-ICU patients in 2009 and in 2008, about 37,000 infections occurred in dialysis clinic patients.

The report, published in a monthly publication from the CDC called "Vital Signs," says that during the nine years, improvements in care translated to about $1.8 billion in healthcare cost savings. Also, 27,000 patients who would have died of their infections survived.

In 2009 alone, efforts to reduce infections saved 3,000 to 6,000 lives and about $144 million in extra medical costs compared with 2001.

Denise Cardo, MD, director of the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, credited the reduction to hospital, local, state, and national medical and public health efforts that track infection rates and then use that information to tailor prevention efforts.
"The report findings point to a clear need for action beyond ICUs.  Fortunately, we have a prevention model focused on full collaboration that can be applied broadly to maximize prevention efforts."

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