New PHC4 Report on Healthcare-Associated Infections Focuses on Readmissions

Among Pennsylvania patients who acquired a healthcare-associated infection (HAI) in 2010, 31.3 percent were readmitted within 30 days for an infection or complication, according to a new report released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). Among patients who did not contract an HAI, 6.3 percent were readmitted within 30 days for an infection or complication.

The mortality rate for Pennsylvania patients who contracted a healthcare-associated infection in 2010 was 9.1 percent — down from 9.4 percent the previous year — the report shows. The mortality rate was 1.7 percent for patients without an HAI.

The estimated average Medicare fee-for-service hospital payment for patients who acquired an infection was $21,378; the average for those who did not was $6,709. The average Medicaid fee-for-service hospital stay cost $33,329 for patients with an HAI; the average Medicaid payment was $6,040 for those without an HAI.

“Patients with a healthcare-associated infection continue to be readmitted at higher rates than those whose cases were not associated with an infection,” said PHC4 executive director Joe Martin. “Those readmissions remain an important opportunity for quality improvement and cost control. And with public-sector health programs like Medicaid and Medicare facing serious cost challenges, it behooves us to redouble our efforts to prevent these infections from occurring.”

Of the 1,880,189 patients treated in Pennsylvania hospitals during the 2010 calendar year, 21,319 or 1.13 percent, acquired an infection. That was down from 1.20 percent the previous year.

“We don’t know how much the initial infection contributes to the readmission rates or the payments, but these data present targets for potential quality improvement and cost containment,” said Martin.

Among the other key findings in the 2010 report:

  • The average length of a hospital stay in 2010 for patients with an HAI was 21.9 days. For those without one, it was 5.0 days.
  • Conditions with the highest percentage of HAIs were: leukemia and lymphomas, respiratory failure in adults, abdominal hernia, and heart valve disorder.
  • Surgical site infections were the most common type of HAI (26.8 percent of all HAI cases), followed by urinary tract infections (22 percent of all HAI cases.)
  • PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.

Copies of the free report can be downloaded from PHC4’s website at

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