Study: Recounting the Cost of CAUTIs

This member-only article appears in the May issue of Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

You probably know that CMS doesn’t reimburse for hospital-acquired infections (HAI), including catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), the most common healthcare-associated condition in the U.S.
What you may not know is that CAUTIs cost hospitals far more than most think. While most say the average cost of treating a CAUTI is $1,000, that figure is likely too low. In some cases, it’s 10 times too low.
That’s according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The study was written by Christopher S. Hollenbeak, PhD, professor of surgery and public health sciences at Pennsylvania State University, and Amber L. Schilling, PharmD, MEd, research analyst at the Penn State College of Medicine.
The pair systematically reviewed patient-level cost data, focusing on studies conducted in the United States between 2000 and 2017.

“We can conclude that the prevailing notion of a CAUTI costing approximately $1,000 is an underestimate and an oversimplification of its true economic burden,” Hollenbeak and Schilling wrote. “Many factors can increase the attributable cost well above $1,000.”

This means it’s time to reexamine how you prioritize catheter infections.

The money
Both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and The Joint Commission want a crackdown on HAIs.
HHS has set aggressive goals on HAI reduction. By 2020 the department wants CAUTI rates to be cut 50% in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, and ambulatory surgical centers. The Joint Commission made several changes to its CAUTI National Patient Safety Goal in 2016 as well. The changes went into effect on January 2017, and surveyors are still hunting for noncompliance.

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