Are Urinary Tract Infections Being Measured Correctly? Maybe Not And $373 Million In Federal Fines May Be Impacted, If They Are Not.

Jul 02, 2015, 14:35 ET from Health Watch USA

LEXINGTON, Ky., July 2, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by Health Watch USA:

A recent article published in the American Journal of Infection Control raises questions on how hospital infection rates for urinary tract infections are reported.   These infections occur in 290,000 U.S. hospital patients annually, with an estimated cost of $290 million. Two different measurement systems are being used to track the U.S. Healthcare system's performance in lowering the rate of these infections.  Since 2010, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) measurement system has shown a 28.2% decrease, while since 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) measurement system has shown a 3% to 6% increase.  The most prominent difference between the two systems is in how the infection rates are calculated.  The AHRQ system divides the number of infections by hospital discharges, as the CDC system divides the number of infections by catheter days (the number of days catheters are used).      

The most important intervention to prevent urinary catheter infections is not using the catheter in the first place.   Decreasing catheter usage requires increased nursing care to assist patients and may necessitate that a hospital increase its support of its nursing staff.   The CDC has stated that urinary catheters should not be used "as a substitute for nursing care of the patient or resident with incontinence."  

A hospitals rate of urinary catheter infections make up almost a third of CMS's Hospital Acquired Condition penalty, which can penalize a hospital by 1% of its entire annual Medicare payment.   If a hospital decreases its catheter usage, it may also have to invest more resources into its nursing staff.  Because the facility's urinary catheters are then used on sicker patients, their rate of infections, may paradoxically appear to increase, if the number of their infections is divided by catheter days.  In addition, higher performing facilities may become at risk to receive the 1% CMS penalty.  Annually, this national penalty totals $373 million

It is, thus, recommended that the current method of evaluating infections from urinary catheters be modified so facilities which decrease catheter usage are not penalized but are rewarded.    

To read more in the recent article go to:

Contact: Kevin Kavanagh, 


SOURCE Health Watch USA