small ideas 8-10

blog

January 22, 2014

Small Ideas for Saving Big Health Care Dollars (No. 8-10)

Every Wednesday this month, the RAND Blog will highlight a few small ideas for saving big health care dollars. Last week, small ideas No. 4-7 ranged from boosting use of retail clinics to replacing brand-name drugs with generic medications. This week, we explore ideas for preventing three common infections. These could enhance patient safety, as well as contain costs.

With the United States spending $2.8 trillion per year on health care, America can't afford to leave money on the table.

Thinking small could save big.

— Pete Wilmoth

Small Idea #8

Prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs)

Rationale

Recommended practices for prevention of CLABSIs include hand hygiene, barrier precautions, use of chlorihexidine and topical antibiotics, education, checklists, and catheter kits. All of these can lead to cost reduction.

Estimated annual savings1

$18 million

Feasibility

  • Political: High
  • Operational: Medium

Learn More

Small Idea #9

Prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia

Rationale

Prevention bundles, including head-of-bed elevation, sedation vacations, oral care with chlorhexidine, and subglottic suctioning endotracheal tubes can prevent infections, leading to cost reduction.

Estimated annual savings1

$47 million

Feasibility

  • Political: High
  • Operational: Medium

Learn More

Small Idea #10

Prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections

Rationale

Numerous strategies to encourage appropriate catheter use can reduce infections and lead to cost reduction: education, reminders (e.g., checklist, verbal/written/electronic reminders, etc.), stop orders, and more.

Estimated annual savings1

$100 million

Feasibility

  • Political: High
  • Operational: Medium

Learn More

1All estimates are in 2012 dollars.