LOS ANGELES, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A new study has shown that by working to reduce bloodstream infections from catheter use, hospitals are saving millions in healthcare costs each year.
Research by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has found that hospitals that implemented rigorous safeguards against catheter infections have not only reduced the number of infections but also saved millions of dollars in the process.
"Safety interventions are a win-win for both patients and hospitals," Dr. Teryl Nuckols, director of the Division of General Medicine in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Medicine, said in a press release.
Nuckols and his team studied data from the last 10 years on catheter-related bloodstream infections at 113 hospitals and found that safety interventions reduced infections by 57 percent on average while producing a net savings of $1.85 million for each hospital annually.
The savings was due to reduced costs in treating patients with bloodstream infections. Roughly 60,000 bloodstream infections linked to catheter use are estimated to occur annually in the United States, having a 12 percent or higher mortality rate.
The team focused their research on central venous catheters or central lines, which are used in intensive care units to deliver medications, fluids or blood to patients through large veins in the arm, chest, neck or groin.
Safeguards implemented to prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections include wearing sterile gloves, covering catheters with antimicrobial dressings and checking catheters daily for signs of movement or infection.
"Due to the high cost of caring for patients when central-line infections develop, even sizable up-front investments in infection prevention can be associated with large net savings," Nuckols said. "On the basis of our findings, hospitals that have not yet achieved very low rates of infection can consider implementing a variety of safety practices."
The research showed that the use of safeguards resulted in a 49 percent reduction in the rate of catheter-related bloodstream infections nationally from 2010 to 2013, according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The study found that while the average cost of implementing catheter safety programs was $270,000 per hospital, for every $100,000 spent, a hospital saw $315,000 in savings from less infections.
The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.