In This Edition
Literature At A Glance
A guide to this month’s studies
- Healthcare-associated infections financially impact the U.S. system
- No mortality benefit with treatment of single peripheral pulmonary emboli
- Modified (shorter) IV acetylcysteine infusion reduces adverse effects
- Comorbidities contribute to potentially avoidable hospital readmissions
- Resident handoff bundle reduces medical errors and adverse events, improves handoff quality
- Uncomplicated skin infections in the ambulatory setting commonly involve avoidable antibiotic exposure
- Warfarin initiation in atrial fibrillation associated with increased short-term risk of stroke
- Multifaceted discharge interventions reduce rates of pediatric readmission and post-hospital ED utilization
- Sepsis diagnoses are common, but many septic patients in ED do not receive antibiotics
- New oral anticoagulants safe, effective for atrial fibrillation treatment
Healthcare-Associated Infections Continue to Impact the U.S. Healthcare System Financially
Clinical question: What is the estimated cost of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) to the U.S. healthcare system?
Background: In spite of education efforts, HAIs occur frequently and contribute to high healthcare costs in the U.S. This study sought to estimate the costs of HAIs to the U.S. system using statistical analyses of published data.
Study design: Simulations of published data.
Setting: Published studies on five major HAIs.
Synopsis: Monte Carlo simulations based upon published point estimates were used to estimate per-case cost and confidence intervals, with extrapolation to total costs to the U.S. healthcare system. Overall, five major HAIs occur approximately 440,000 times annually and cost the healthcare system an estimated $9.78 billion (range $8.28 to $11.5 billion) in 2009.
Surgical site infections (36.0%) were the most common of the studied HAIs, with increased per-case cost of $20,785, equating to an estimated $3.30 billion annually (33.7% of total HAI costs). Clostridium difficile infection accounted for 30.3% of HAI but only 15.4% of costs ($1.51 billion). Central line-associated bloodstream infections were most costly per case ($45,814), with total costs of $1.85 billion (18.9% of costs). Ventilator-associated pneumonia accounted for $3.09 billion, or 31.7% of total costs. Catheter-associated urinary tract infection only represented 0.3% of total costs, or $27.9 million annually.
The authors suggest that changes in payment reform likely will drive hospitals to further invest in HAI reduction efforts.
Bottom line: HAIs remain frequent and expensive complications of hospitalization, in spite of improvement efforts to date.
Citation: Zimlichman E, Henderson D, Tamir O, et al. Health care-associated infections: a meta-analysis of costs and financial impact on the US health care system. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(22):2039-2046.
No Mortality Benefit with Treatment of Single Peripheral Pulmonary Emboli
Clinical question: Does treatment of single peripheral pulmonary emboli impact mortality and rates of post-discharge venous thromboembolism (VTE)?
Background: With the increase in CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) use the past decade, there has been an increased rate of detection of peripheral filling defects. When confronted with a single peripheral filling defect (SPFD), clinicians face the dilemma of whether treatment is necessary, given the risks associated with anticoagulation.
Study design: Retrospective cohort.
Setting: Community teaching hospital in Norwalk, Conn.
Synopsis: A total of 4,906 CTPAs were screened, revealing 153 scans with an SPFD. Primary analysis included 134 patients 18 years or older. Of these patients, 61 (45.5%) received treatment with anticoagulation (n=51) or IVC filter alone (n=10).
This study revealed no difference in adjusted 90-day mortality between treated and untreated groups. No statistically significant difference was found in the rate of post-discharge VTE within 90 days.
Characteristics associated with treatment for SPFD were patient immobility, previous VTE, and radiology labeling the filling defect as a pulmonary embolus. It is important to note that none of the patients who had a normal second imaging study (e.g. V/Q scan or ultrasound) were treated; therefore, the use of secondary studies could mitigate some of the uncertainty around SPFD management, though this is not recommended in current diagnostic algorithms. Because this is a single-center study with a modest sample size, the comparability of findings to other centers might be limited. Larger studies are needed to help clarify these findings.