Allegheny General Hospital: Lower Infection Rates Have Lowered Costs

This story originally appeared in IHI's 2006 Progress Report.
The human and financial cost of hospital-acquired infection is huge. At Allegheny General Hospital, a 580-bed teaching hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a sharp focus on preventing infection has resulted in significant savings in both categories.
“We began with a focus on prevention and accurate diagnosis of nosocomial infections,” says Sharon Kiely, MD, Chief of Clinical Quality. “In managing complex, very sick patients our staff learned that a multidisciplinary approach was necessary to reduce infection, as well as targeting appropriate treatment to the patient.” 
Under the leadership of Richard Shannon, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine, Allegheny General implemented the interventions in IHI’s 100,000 Lives Campaign to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and central line-associated bloodstream infections CLI) in two ICUs. The results were dramatic: Within one year, the VAP rate dropped by 83 percent and the CLI rate fell by 87 percent.
Leaders at Allegheny General estimate that patients diagnosed with VAP average a 34-day stay, with a net loss to the hospital of $24,435 after reimbursement; patients diagnosed with CLI average a 28-day stay, at an operating loss of $26,839. For an investment of about $35,000 in improvement work, Shannon estimates that the hospital experienced a $2 million improvement.
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