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Infection Risk Lurks In Hospital ICUs | Daytona Beach Malpractice Attorney

Infection Risk Lurks In Hospital ICUs

While many established teaching hospitals do well at preventing potentially deadly hospital-acquired infections, others don’t, according to a new analysis.

Consumer Reports Health conducted an analysis of U.S. health care systems that have at least five hospitals and results show that many hospitals have high rates of central-line associated bloodstream infections in their intensive care units.

The analysis focused on one of the most dreaded types of the approximately 1.7 million infections that occur each year in U.S. hospitals. They are bloodstream infections introduced through the large intravenous catheters that deliver medication, nutrition, and fluids to patients in intensive care. These so-called central-line infections account for about 15 percent of all hospital infections but are responsible for at least 30 percent of the 99,000 annual hospital-infection-related deaths, according to the best estimates available.

Consumer Reports focused on hospitals that are members of the Council of Teaching Hospitals, and found they showed no improvement, overall, compared with last year’s report in the number that reported zero infections.

“Most of us think of teaching hospitals as setting the standard for the right way to do things, so it’s surprising to see so many teaching hospitals near the bottom of the list,” said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, in a news release.

For this analysis, central-line infection data for intensive-care units at over 1,000 hospitals across the country was compared. (Among the nation’s roughly 5,000 acute-care hospitals, about 3,300 provide intensive care, but in many, there were too few patients to yield statistically meaningful data, and many are still not reporting publicly.)

The data came either from one of the 18 states that publicly report hospital-infection rates, or from The Leapfrog Group a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on improving health care in hospitals.

“The best hospitals know that sunlight is the best disinfectant, so they are willing to publicly report even if their performance is not yet optimal,” said Leah Binder, chief executive officer of The Leapfrog Group.

Citizen activists across the country, including those working with Consumer Reports, have helped to enact laws in most, states forcing hospitals to publicly disclose their infection rates as a first step, it’s hoped, toward improving them. Many of the states have made that information publicly available.

Research has repeatedly shown that hospitals, even large urban ones, can dramatically reduce and even eliminate central-line infections. While the steps to preventing those infections are simple, hospitals are complex places with lots of people and multiple teams. For the process to work, each individual has to make a commitment to perform each step each time, and have the courage to correct their colleague when they see an error has been made.

Three teaching hospitals got the lowest rating in preventing bloodstream infections: Saint Louis University Hospital, Saint Louis, Mo.; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, N.Y.; and Regional Medical Center at Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. In addition, 64 hospitals got the second lowest rating. Orlando Regional Medical Center, in Orlando was the only Florida hospital to make the list.

For more on hospital safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach medical malpractice attorney.

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