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Nation’s Foremost Health Care Leaders Kick Off Summit Focused on Zero-Tolerance Approach to Hospital-Acquired Infections


Summit attendees say HAIs are most difficult preventable medical conditions to address; Hospitals must improve infection prevention awareness, education and training to reduce HAIs

WASHINGTON. – As health care providers brace for an October deadline when Medicare will lower reimbursement rates for certain preventable medical conditions, more than 400 health care industry leaders are meeting to learn how to implement a zero-tolerance approach to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).

HAIs are preventable medical conditions that are a major concern for health care organizations because of their staggering human toll and significant economic impact. It has been estimated that in the United States, HAIs affect nearly 2 million patients annually, killing as many as 100,000 patients and adding as much as $20 billion in additional costs to the health care industry.

The inaugural Chasing Zero Summit on hospital-acquired infections, hosted by Cardinal Health, takes place today through Sept. 10 and is occurring during a pivotal time for the U.S. health care industry. As of Oct. 1, Medicare will lower or eliminate reimbursement for 11 avoidable medical conditions, four of which are HAIs, leaving hospitals with a compelling economic imperative to take immediate steps to eliminate infections.

In an informal poll of Chasing Zero Summit attendees, respondents said that of the 11 preventable conditions that will receive lower or no Medicare reimbursements, the top three most difficult conditions to address are HAIs. In addition, 80 percent of poll respondents indicated that increasing hospital staff awareness, education and training related to infection prevention would have the most significant impact on providers’ abilities to reduce HAIs.

“I believe that one of the keys to driving a meaningful reduction in the cost of care is improving the quality of care,” said R. Kerry Clark, chairman and CEO of Cardinal Health. “It’s clear that HAIs represent a great challenge and a great opportunity to drive measurable improvements in patient safety and reduce overall health care costs.”

Chasing Zero Summit speakers include Dr. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve System from 1987 to 2006; Dr. Thomas Valuck, Center for Medicare Management medical officer and senior advisor; Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution and Dr. Uwe Reinhardt, James Madison Professor of Political Economics at Princeton University.

The summit will also feature the country’s foremost health authorities, including the chief executive officers of the National Quality Forum (NQF), the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the Leapfrog Group; president and chief patient safety officer of the Joint Commission and director of the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), among others.


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