Hospital infections down in 2009

    Hospital groups are delighted by a new report that shows infections for in-patients dropped from 2008 to 2009. Still, many Philadelphia-area hospitals performed worse than average for some of the most common — and dangerous — infections surveyed.

    Hospital groups are delighted by a new report from Pennsylvania’s Health Department that shows infections for in-patients dropped from 2008 to 2009. Still, many Philadelphia-area hospitals performed worse than the state average for some of the most common — and dangerous — infections surveyed.

    2009 is the first year that the Pennsylvania Health Department has full data on hospital-acquired infections. The results are preliminary, but they suggest a decline in the transmission of diseases among patients. Stephen Ostroff, the state physician general, said in a press conference that the data must be taken with a grain of salt, because this is only the first full year of reporting.

    Ostroff: “It established the baseline information against which the hospitals will be measured in the future for the changes in the occurrence of their healthcare associated infections we certainly hope will be in a downward direction.”

    The department says this reflects the years of work from hospitals in the state to reduce the spread of germs.

    Many of the hospitals that had higher than average urinary tract and blood stream infections are clustered in the Philadelphia region. Kate Flynn, the president of the Healthcare Improvement Foundation, says area teaching hospitals treat some of the sickest patients in the state.

    Flynn: “And those patients have the highest risk of infection to begin with. And despite very very solid attempts and efforts at infection reduction, not all infections may be preventable.”

    The Partnership for Patient care — a local infection control initiative — has been around since 2006. Flynn says hospitals have made significant improvements since then.

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