Infection control program among seniors reduces deaths by 10%, could save 'trillions' in waste

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AHRQ gives $34 million to nursing homes, other settings to fight healthcare-associated infections
AHRQ gives $34 million to nursing homes, other settings to fight healthcare-associated infections

An infection control program developed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has helped lower death rates in hospital intensive care units by 10%, experts say. A Thompson/Reuters analysis of the program, which could be adapted for other healthcare settings, asserts it could save $3.6 trillion in waste over 10 years if it becomes more widely used.

The program emphasizes changing a provider's culture by using checklists to prevent errors and reduce costs, Reuters reports. Additional safety precautions include common sense methods such as thorough hand washing; questioning when and if a catheter is needed; putting coverings on the patient and the nurse or physician when a catheter is being inserted; and seeking alternatives to central lines in the groin area.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins reviewed records for 1.3 million ICU patients over the age of 65 for the study. The analysis focused on the impact of the program when it was implemented across ICU departments in Michigan.

"Independent of whether they were in our program, mortality of all Medicare patients admitted to the ICU went down 10% compared to all 11 surrounding states—that is incredible," said lead researcher, Dr. Peter Pronovost.