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APIC: Automated Surveillance Prevents HAIs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 6, 2010

Facilities that have automated surveillance technologies to detect infectious organisms have also implemented best practices to prevent their spread, a study of 241 acute care hospitals in California indicates.

Only 78 of 241 California's hospitals (32.4% of those studied) have employed computer technologies to identify infections, according to the study. 

Eight-five percent of institutions with surveillance technologies had implemented best practices, such as checklists and handwashing protocols, to prevent infections.

The report was presented as a poster at last month's meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) in New Orleans by Helen Halpin, professor of health policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

"These advantages are enormous in an era when CMS will no longer pay for the additional costs attributable to specific hospital acquired infections and where more states are requiring hospitals to report HAI rates publicly," her poster said.

"Our findings suggest that hospitals that use automated surveillance technology are able to put more HAI elimination strategies into place that will ultimately reduce the risk of infection," Halpin says. "Manual identification of infections is costly, time-consuming and diverts staff time from prevention activities."

APIC supports hospitals' use of automated systems to prevent these infections.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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