Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Annual Conference

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Annual Conference

June 12, 2019
2 min read

Investing in infection prevention improves care, saves money

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PHILADELPHIA — Implementing chlorhexidine gluconate, or CHG, bathing for every patient led to significant reductions in health care-associated infections, or HAIs, and reduced costs in a Syracuse, New York, health care system, according to findings presented at the conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

“We initiated this process because we recognized that we have opportunity in infections with our patients,” Pearl Lavalette, MSN, RN, CIC, manager of infection prevention and control at St. Joseph’s Health, told Infectious Disease News. “We started in the oncology unit because they are vulnerable patients at such high risk for everything. We needed something that would cover them head to toe with protection.”

According to Lavalette and colleague Debra Steves, RN, BSN, CHG bathing was implemented in all patients in April 2017 and staff members were educated about CHG bathing through face-to-face and electronic sessions.

Following the intervention, they observed a 65% reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections, or CLABSIs. Based on a direct cost per CLABSI of $17,445, they calculated a total cost reduction for this HAI of $226,785.

“As infection preventionists, we do everything that we can to try to reduce risk and to try to prevent infection in our patients,” Lavalette said. “In bathing them every day, we are providing them a safety blanket that we wrap them in like a big old hug to make sure we are protecting them the best way that we can in an environment that we can’t necessarily control every little aspect.”

Lavalette and Steves reported reductions in other infections. Specifically, catheter-associated UTIs decreased by 30%, MRSA bacteremia decreased by 100% and Clostridioides difficile infection decreased by 28%, according to a news release.

The intervention saved nearly $515,000 between April 2017 and March 2018, according to the release, whereas the total cost of CHG bathing was $40,114, the researchers reported.

“To make a strong argument to your leadership and having the buy-in from your leadership, which is incredibly important, you have to be able to say, yes, these costs are potential but the impact on the patients is bigger,” Lavalette said. “For an [infection preventionist] in today’s health care arena, really to be able to present an argument like that is essential to moving forward.” – by Marley Ghizzone


Lavalette P and Steves D. Utilizing a business case to link reduction in infections to reduction in costs. Presented at: APIC 2019; June 12-14, 2019; Philadelphia.

Disclosures: Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at time of publication.