Hospital infections go down

    More than 27,000 Pennsylvanians contracted an infection while in the hospital last year, down nearly 8% from 2007. Experts say that number shows hospitals in the state are generally getting better at prevention. From WHYY’s health and science desk Kerry Grens reports.

    More than 27,000 Pennsylvanians contracted an infection while in the hospital last year, down nearly 8% from 2007. Experts say that number shows hospitals in the state are generally getting better at prevention.

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    The latest report from the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council shows while the overall rate is down, area hospitals have had mixed results.

    Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol cut its infection rate by half.

    Audrey McCash, the hospital’s director of quality management, says part of that reduction is due to safer equipment, like wound dressing containing silver.

    McCash: Silver has been known for years, for centuries I believe, as an infection fighter. So we used this on a trial basis and found out that our infection rates did go down as a result of this silver impregnated dressing.

    Other hospitals, like Jefferson and the University of Pennsylvania, experienced a rise in reported infections.

    U Penn reported a 200 percent increase in pneumonia cases.

    P.J. Brennan, U Penn’s chief medical officer, says it’s less a matter of transmission and more a matter of new detection software.

    Brennan: An increase like that indicates that something is being measured differently, and what’s being measured differently is what’s happening in the electronic surveillance world.

    U Penn, like many hospitals in the Delaware Valley, made significant improvements in reducing blood stream infections.

    Brennan says the hospital’s goal is to eliminate them completely by 2010.

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