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U.S. physicians aren’t confident about the country’s preparedness to cope with the novel coronavirus as they are put their own protocols in place for potentially infected patients.

The survey of 150 doctors found only 9% feel confident they could identify a patient who has contracted what is now known as COVID-19, the novel respiratory illness with flu-like systems that originated in Wuhan, China, according to a new survey from InCrowd.

Just one in four physicians feels very prepared to treat a patient that has potentially contracted COVID-19.

Case Study

Across-the-Board Impact of an OB-GYN Hospitalist Program

A Denver facility saw across-the-board improvements in patient satisfaction, maternal quality metrics, decreased subsidy and increased service volume, thanks to the rollout of the first OB-GYN hospitalist program in the state.

See how

Of the government response to COVID-19, only one in three respondents agrees that the U.S. is taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of the illness. Nearly half (45%) agree that the World Health Organization and governments outside of the U.S. are taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

So far, 14 people in the U.S. have been confirmed to have the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The latest patient is among a group of people quarantined in California after returning on a State Department-chartered flight from China.

Coronavirus has been blamed for 1,367 deaths worldwide, all but two recorded in mainland China, which has been the center of the outbreak, according to USA Today. The total number of confirmed cases has spiked to over 60,000.

InCrowd surveyed emergency medicine or critical care specialists, pediatricians and primary care physicians about COVID-19 between January 31 and February 4 and found most report a lack of confidence in their preparedness to treat COVID-19. Of those surveyed, 65% said they don’t have access to a COVID-19 test kit made available by the CDC for laboratory testing. Seventy-two percent of respondents say if a patient traveled to a country where COVID-19 is prevalent, they would automatically want to test for the virus if the test were available.

Yet the majority of physicians confirm that their practices are recommending protocols to follow for potentially affected patients. While 75% of respondents said that their clinic or hospital has recommended a protocol for patients that could potentially have COVID-19, only 38% think the hospitals or facilities where they have privileges are prepared to treat people with the disease.

While only 9% of respondents rated themselves as being very concerned about COVID-19, 28% said their patients are very concerned. “I’m not particularly concerned about it, however, we are forced by media hype to feed into the fear,” a 42-year-old male emergency medicine and critical care specialist said in the survey.

But doctors said patients should be more concerned about the flu. “I try to emphasize to my patients that they should be more worried about the influenza virus,” said a 36-year-old female emergency medicine and critical care specialist.

In fact, 21% of respondents said their patients are more concerned about the threat of the flu, which the CDC estimates has killed 12,000 patients in the U.S. this season and resulted in 210,000 hospitalizations.

Sepsis hospitalizations cost Medicare $41.8 billion in 2018 alone, a new study from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows. 

The rate of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with sepsis has increased by 40% over the past seven years, the HHS study found. The researchers analyzed more than 9.5 million inpatient admissions between 2012 and 2018, making for one of the largest studies into the impact of sepsis. 

The growing sepsis infection rate isn’t related to ballooning Medicare enrollment, the study says, as enrollment grew by 22% even as infection rates grew by 40%. 

Case Study

Across-the-Board Impact of an OB-GYN Hospitalist Program

A Denver facility saw across-the-board improvements in patient satisfaction, maternal quality metrics, decreased subsidy and increased service volume, thanks to the rollout of the first OB-GYN hospitalist program in the state.

See how

“Sepsis is a lethal and costly health threat affecting Americans’ lives and our economy, yet many Americans may never have heard of it,” Robert Kadlec, M.D., HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in a statement. 

“Any infection can lead to sepsis, including infections caused by influenza or emerging diseases like coronaviruses, which makes sepsis a significant concern in public health emergencies,” Kadlec said. 

A study released last month by the University of Pittsburgh estimates that sepsis is responsible for one in every five deaths worldwide, double previous projections. And while high-income countries have plenty of work to do to address sepsis rates, middle- and low-income countries disproportionately bear the burden of the disease, the Pitt study found.

HHS’ analysis dug into sepsis’ impact on outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries and found that 10% of those with non-severe sepsis died while hospitalized or within a week of discharge, and 60% died within three years of contracting the infection. 

Of those diagnosed with severe sepsis, or septic shock, 40% died in the hospital or within a week of discharge, and 75% died within three years, according to the study. 

Mortality risks were highest among beneficiaries with comorbid chronic conditions, HHS said. 

Medicare patients were more likely to arrive at the hospital with the infection rather than contracting it while hospitalized, the study found. However, two-thirds had a medical encounter in the week before their hospitalization, emphasizing the need for earlier detection. 

The study suggests the cost burden of sepsis isn’t likely to decrease anytime soon. HHS projects that in 2019 the cost for inpatient and skilled nursing care related to sepsis could exceed $69 billion. 

Costs increased by 12% to 14% every two years, the study found. 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement that the study highlights the “urgent need” for continued action to mitigate sepsis and said the agency is moving full speed ahead with efforts to eliminate regulatory hurdles that can inhibit access to lifesaving drugs. 

“This groundbreaking study sheds light on the sepsis-related challenges faced by patients, providers, and taxpayers alike,” Verma said. 

“CMS continues to clear away regulatory obstacles and financial disincentives that have long inhibited the development of life-saving antibiotics capable of treating sepsis patients,” she added. “Patients suffering from sepsis deserve to see America’s full innovative potential mobilized to address this devastating condition.”