South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust seeks to Eliminate Preventable Infections, Safely Reduce Cost of Care

February 5, 2009

Each year, the Centers for Disease Control estimates there are 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in America's hospitals, a situation that costs the nation's healthcare system $6.2 billion each year. Today, a visionary group of healthcare leaders in South Carolina declared, "enough is enough," vowing to eliminate preventable healthcare-associated infections from the state's hospitals.

Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), and the Premier healthcare alliance have announced the formation of the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust, a voluntary, statewide hospital and research university performance partnership. The collaborative's first project will employ research to identify causes of and solutions to preventable infections and then share the results with all 65 of the state's acute care hospitals. The three partners will be investing more than $1.7 million over three years in the effort.

The return on investment has the potential to be significant. Based on Premier data from 16 South Carolina hospitals representing 42 percent of the state's annual discharges, these efforts could save the state's hospitals as much as $40 million a year and reduce the length of stay of South Carolina patients by up to 24,000 days.

"We all know someone whose life has been altered, sometimes permanently, by a preventable infection," said HSSC President and CEO Jay Moskowitz. "South Carolina believes it is time for change. Through the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust, we will be using our state's best researchers to determine the causes of specific infections. We will test solutions in our state's four largest health systems, which today treat about 30 percent of all patients. We will then share the best practices, products, and services that result with all South Carolina hospitals. We believe this approach has the potential to make our state's hospitals safer for patients, families and employees; avoid millions in costs; and make our state a national model for healthcare quality."

While other states also are addressing the issue of healthcare-associated infections, none are doing it like South Carolina. The effort includes the state's largest research universities through HSSC--Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the University of South Carolina (USC) as well as all of the state's hospitals through SCHA. South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust partners see this as a proactive approach that does more than find better treatments for healthcare-associated infections, but creates new ways to prevent them from happening in the first place.