Patient Care

Effect of Nonpayment on Nosocomial Infection Rates in U.S. Hospitals


Clinical question: Did the 2008 Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) policy denying additional payment for hospital-acquired conditions result in decreased rates of nosocomial infections?

Background: In an effort to curtail preventable complications, CMS implemented a policy of nonpayment for certain healthcare-acquired conditions beginning in October 2008. The effect of this policy on rates of nosocomial infections, including central venous catheter-associated bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, is unknown.

Study design: Quasi-experimental.

Setting: Data collected from 398 hospitals participating in the National Healthcare Safety Network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Synopsis: Investigators analyzed rates of nosocomial infections in participating hospitals before and after implementation of the 2008 nonpayment policy. The rates of decline in central venous catheter infections were not significantly different in the pre-implementation and post-implementation periods (4.8% per quarter and 4.7% per quarter, respectively; incidence-rate ratio 1.0; P=0.97). Similar results were found with regard to catheter-associated UTIs before and after policy initiation (3.9% per quarter and 0.9% per quarter, incidence-rate ratio 1.03; P=0.08). Results did not vary between states with and without mandatory reporting of nosocomial infections.

While this study’s broad scope limits the ability to draw firm conclusions, it does highlight the need for careful evaluation and quantification of the outcomes resulting from CMS’ expansion of policies for financial incentives and disincentives.

Bottom line: National rates of decline in nosocomial infections were unchanged before and after implementation of CMS’ nonpayment policy in 2008.

Citation: Lee GM, Kleinman K, Soumerai SB, et al. Effect of nonpayment for preventable infections in U.S. hospitals. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1428-1437

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