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Hospital acquired infections face off against germ cops, efficiency software

In the war on MRSA, pneumonia, and other hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), both pathogen and technology experts are getting creative and getting serious.

Becoming sick with infection while in hospital isn’t just inconvenient: it is costly and can be deadly. According to the Center for Disease Control, HAIs set hospitals back $45 billion and are responsible for nearly 100,000 people annually.

To fight back, the University of Maryland’s Medical Center has hired four “infection preventionists” to patrol the university medical center and inspect the work of everyone from ICU doctors to janitors. Their job is to interact closely with staff, to ensure they are doing everything they can to avoid bringing these bugs to uninfected patients.

Part of the solution to keeping infections down is making hospitals more efficient.  By automating patient information, medical centers and hospitals reduce the chances that patients have to catch a bug.

Additionally, the lag time between acquiring test results and the exchanging of that information can mean inadvertent exposure by other patients and staff.  Patient flow automation software – being used in the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center and Methodist Healthcare System in San Antonio, Tex., among others – increases efficiency and may help to reduce the severity of exposure to HAIs.

For patients with Medicare, this increased vigilance is critical: according to the Associated Press, “Medicare has begun cutting payments to hospitals with high rates of certain infections, cuts that will increase by 2015 under the new health care law.” To keep funding in place, hospitals need to get the bugs under control.

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