Investment in Quality Improvement to Prevent NICU Infections Could Lead to Better Health Outcomes and Reduced Costs

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Preventing bloodstream infections in very low birth weight babies in newborn intensive care units could save lives and approximately $3,000 per patient, according to data presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center researchers worked together with researchers from University Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital (both in Cincinnati) as part of the Ohio Perinatal Quality Collaborative. They evaluated the costs and lengths of stay of very low birth weight babies (401-1500 grams) with and without blood stream infections. They then used these data to model projections on changes in cost and use of care.

"We found that the majority of avoidable costs would stem from shorter hospital stays," said Edward F. Donovan, MD, a neonatologist and faculty member of the Cincinnati Children’s Child Policy Research Center and the study’s lead author. "With as few as 200 very low birth weight babies, four to five lives could be saved, more than $450,000 in infection-related treatment costs could be avoided, and 131 bed days per year would be freed up."

The study will be presented at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, May 4.

"This is a case of pay now, or pay more later," said Dr. Donovan. "If an investment is made now to implement prevention strategies, the result will be healthier patients and cost savings which can be reinvested into further improving patient care."

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of 10 children’s hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report’s 2009-10 America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care, neurosurgery, diabetes, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Internationally recognized for quality and innovation by The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it has collaborations with hospitals and health systems around the world. . Additional information can be found at

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Nick Miller