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Poor Quality Costs Hospitals

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Hospital-acquired infections take toll on bottom lines – USATODAY.com

One of the problems that hospitals are trying to reduce, through lean methods and other good standard practices, is hospital-acquired infections — known as “nosocomial infections.”

Obviously, health providers have incentives to prevent infections because it's the right thing for the patient. In some cases, people have wondered if there's a potential financial loss from doing so. It would really be a perverse incentive if a hospital made more money from a patient getting an infection because the hospital would get paid for getting rid of the infection.

The article above points out a study where it shows hospitals LOSE money from nosocomial infections because their costs go up way more than any increased reimbursement they might get from the payer.

I'm glad that the general lean mindset of “Quality is Free” should also apply to healthcare. We have to work not just accept these infections as something that's just bound to happen. Basic “standard work” such as increased hand washing can go a long way in preventing these infections.

“Hospital-acquired infection is not an anticipated byproduct of taking care of the very ill,” says David Nash, editor of the journal and chairman of the Department of Health Policy at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. “It's a failure in the process of how medical care is delivered.”

We have to think of defects in any system this same way…. it's not just bound to happen, it's a defect in the process, something that we have to fix.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. Karen Wilhelm says

    It’s a sorry state of affairs when the “lose money” message will probably capture a lot more executive attention that what the patient or the patient’s family loses. And didn’t Mr. Lister cover the hand-washing issue a few years ago?

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