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ICU infections increase death risk for elderly patients by 35 percent

iStock | sudok1

iStock | sudok1

Elderly patients who develop infections during a stay in the ICU are 35 percent more likely to die within five years than those who do not develop infections. Additionally, infection prevention efforts reduce costs by more than $150,000 per patient.

These findings come from a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The study looked at more than 15,000 elderly Medicare patients admitted to ICUs in more than 31 hospitals in 2002, then used Medicare claims data to measure outcomes for the following five years.

The study estimates that preventive programs for central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) result in an estimated 15.5 more years of life.

“Any death from preventable infections is one too many,” said Patricia Stone, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University School of Nursing and senior author of the study, in a press release. “We’ve known for decades what works to prevent infections and save lives. Now, our study shows just how much money can be saved by investing in prevention.”

Additionally, the study found that the average ongoing cost of running an infection prevention program is about $145,000. Prevention efforts, however, reduced ICU costs by between $160,000 and $175,000 per patient, depending on the infection type.

Do you have infection prevention measures in your hospitals? Do you see positive results from them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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