(HealthDay News) – Hospitals seem to be paying greater attention to preventing targeted health care-associated infections (HAIs) as a result of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) nonpayment policy.

Using a national survey conducted in a random sample of US hospitals in December 2010, Grace M. Lee MD, MPH, from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues investigated the impact of the CMS payment policy on infection prevention efforts.

The researchers found that 81% of hospitals reported increased attention to HAIs mentioned in CMS policy. One-third of participating hospitals reported spending less time on nontargeted HAIs. Resource shifting (less time spent on nontargeted HAIs) occurred significantly more often in large hospitals (odds ratio [OR], 2.3) and less often in hospitals where front-line staff were perceived as receptive to changes in clinical processes (OR, 0.5). CMS policy resulted in increased infection control spending for 15% of hospitals, with the majority (77%) reporting stable funding. CMS policy resulted in faster removal of urinary (71%) and central venous (50%) catheters, but routine urine and blood cultures on admission occurred infrequently (27 and 13%, respectively).

“The CMS policy of eliminating additional payment for certain HAIs appears to have had a positive impact on hospital infection prevention efforts, yet careful consideration of the potential for unintended consequences is warranted,” the authors write.

One author disclosed receiving financial compensation for speaking at hospitals, academic medical centers, specialty and state societies, and nonprofit organizations about health care-associated infections.

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