Early Intervention by Infectious Diseases Specialists Saves Lives, Reduces Costs
Researchers found that patients treated by ID specialists are 9 percent less likely to die in the hospital and 12 percent less likely to die after discharge. When an ID physician is consulted, patients experience an average 3.7 percent fewer days in an intensive care unit. The study also found consultation with an ID specialist minimizes the likelihood patients will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.
“Infectious diseases are the second leading cause of death worldwide. In an age where healthcare-acquired infections are linked to payment penalties and bundled payments leave little room for error, the impact of ID physicians is more critical than ever to providing high quality care,” said Steven K. Schmitt, MD, lead author of the study. “As the ‘detectives’ of the medical world, ID specialists have additional years of training and possess the expertise to quickly identify and treat potentially life-threatening infections.”
In the study, researchers looked at a sample of Medicare patients who were hospitalized between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009 and had at least one of 11 serious but commonly treated infections: bacteremia, C diff, central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), bacterial endocarditis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/opportunistic infections, meningitis, osteomyelitis, prosthetic joint infections, septic arthritis, septic shock, and vascular device infections. Matching patient characteristics, researchers compared the outcomes of 61,680 hospitalized patients who saw an ID specialist to 65,192 hospitalized patients who did not see an ID specialist.
The benefits of ID consultation are more pronounced when patients are seen earlier, researchers note. Patients seen by an ID physician within two days of being admitted to the hospital are 6 percent less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge compared to patients seen by an ID physician after the first two days. These patients also have an average 3.8 percent fewer days in the hospital, and total Medicare costs for these patients are nearly 6.2 percent lower in the 30 days after discharge from the hospital.
“These findings are in line with healthcare reform efforts being implemented through the Affordable Care Act, showing that including ID specialists in up-front care of patients provides better outcomes at lower costs,” said Dr. Schmitt. “Further, the association of ID specialist involvement with reduced readmission rates suggests an important role for the infectious diseases specialist in transitions of care from the hospital to the community.”
Source: Infectious Diseases Society of America
Published on : Thu, 3 Oct 2013
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