As the number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) continues to rise, related costs and, ultimately, awareness among hospital and health system executives also have increased. In a new report, Infection Control Rises to Top of C-Suite Agenda, released by JLL, a panel of facilities management infection control experts connect effective facility design, operations, and management to the ability to control and dramatically reduce these HAIs.
“Physical space and how it’s used, maintained, and managed is the first line of defense against the spread of infection-causing bacteria at a healthcare facility,” said Peter Bulgarelli, Managing Executive Director, JLL Healthcare Solutions. “We find, however, that these solutions can be overlooked in many infection control and patient safety strategies.”
Overlooking facility design, operations, and management could prove costly to healthcare facilities and executives (see infographic at right). Among the numbers of note:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 700,000 hospitalized patients each year get an HAI with 75,000 of those patients dying from their infection.
- Medicare penalized 758 hospitals a total of $364 million in fiscal 2016 for having higher-than-expected infection rates and other patient safety problems.
- Hospitalized patients who get an infection stay an extra 4.7 days in the hospital and increase the cost of their stays by an average of $7,286, according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.
And the issue is not going away. The CDC said earlier this month that the number of annual C. difficile infections reported by hospitals rose 4 percent in 2014 to 101,074 while the number of surgical site infections rose 2 percent to 15,927. Separately, The Leapfrog Group, which represents employers and other healthcare payers, released data that shows that only 25 percent of surveyed hospitals met the group’s standards for central line-associated blood stream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
With the stakes so high in terms of risk to patient safety and avoidable healthcare utilization and costs, JLL’s report highlights the need for healthcare executives to consider real-estate related tactics in their fight against HAIs.
Specifically, the panel’s advice fell into three areas to consider:
- Facility design, which includes the physical materials and placement of medical supplies and equipment within a care setting.
- Facility operations, which includes the proper maintenance and cleaning of environmental equipment and medical devices.
- Facility management, which includes the effective oversight of outside contractors and services.
The report also explains the changes in culture, attitude, and managerial responsibilities necessary to enlist facility design, operations and management as powerful weapons in the fight against HAIs. Topping that list is the cultivation of a good working relationship between a facility’s lead infection preventionist and its facilities management director.
“Effective communication between those two positions is critical to identifying and then mitigating the infection risk from new and existing real estate-related issues,” Bulgarelli added.