Medicare Will Link Payment to the Reporting of Certain HAIs Beginning 2011


Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are costly both lives and money. In an effort to force hospitals to do more to decrease HAIs, Medicare will link payment to the reporting of certain HAIs beginning January 1, 2011.

For now the HAIs that must be reported will include central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI). Central lines are special intravenous lines placed into a large vein such as the jugular vein (neck), the subclavian vein (chest), or the femoral vein (groin/leg). These lines are used when large amounts of fluid are need as in burn or trauma patients. They can be used to draw blood as well as provide access for antibiotics, medications, and chemotherapy. Often central lines are left in place for weeks rather than days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an estimated 248,000 bloodstream infections occur in U.S. hospitals each year. It is believed that a large proportion of these are associated with the presence of a central line. CLABSIs may contribute to roughly 31,000 patient deaths annually.


Nearly all the infections are preventable when safety measures are used consistently by hospital staff. Techniques for preventing CLABSIs are addressed in the CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (CDC/HIPAC) Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter.

The new reporting requirement for the infections is technically voluntary. However, the acute-care hospitals who don't comply, risk losing 2% of their Medicare funding beginning in fiscal year 2013.

Beginning in 2012, hospitals will have to report the number and rate of surgical site infections, which occur more than 290,000 times a year and claim more than 8,200 lives.

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American Hospital Association