When a patient contracts an infection in a hospital, everyone pays. Here are the numbers:
An Indian study found that when patients develop a Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) during their ICU stay, they end up paying an average of `1.48 lakh more than those who do not. The total out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the first group are over 80% higher.
These mammoth hospital bills are accounted for by the purchase of more expensive drugs to cure difficult-to-treat HAIs caused by resistant organisms, investigation costs and other factors. The cost of stronger medicines is responsible for almost half the higher bill.
From the above, it is clear that even from a business perspective, hospitals have little to gain and a lot to lose from treating a hospital-acquired infection. In common parlance, a bed that could have been allocated to a patient needing surgery or a therapeutic procedure remains occupied by a patient suffering from a long, avoidable illness.
Among the many causes of HAIs, environmental contamination is definitively one. A review of 26 studies found that following effective housekeeping interventions, Multi Drug Resistant Organism (MDRO) colonisation or HAIs caused by S. aureus, C. difficile or vancomycin-resistant enterococci decreased significantly. Over half the studies found a significant decrease in those caused by all tested organisms.
Clearly, housekeeping and hygiene are integral to healthcare. Another study revealed that the average incremental benefit cost ratio of clinical best care practices like hand hygiene, hygiene and sanitation, screening, and basic and additional precautions varies from 2.48 to 7.66.
Patients, their families, clinicians, hospital managers – every stakeholder has a reason to avoid HAIs. Why then do they still occur? What sources of infection remain unchecked? What do infection control experts recommend now? How can housekeeping companies do better? And importantly, who will pay for it all?
Clean India Journal spoke to hospital administrators, microbiologists, hospital housekeepers and service providers to find out how.