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Healthcare-Associated Infections Decline

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has released its third annual report on healthcare-related infections (HAIs), infections acquired while receiving medical care.

The HAI rate declined 3.4 percent overall from 2009 to 2010, with dramatic declines in central-line bloodstream infections (24.4 percent) and urinary tract catheter infections (13.2 percent), but surgical site infections declined only 1.1 percent. The total number of infections declined from over 25,000 to 23,601 in the state's 251 hospitals.

Acting Physician General Stephen Ostroff says the goal is to eliminate all such infections. "They have tremendous consequences for patients — not only in prolonging their hospital stay — also requiring much additional care and sometimes having fatal outcomes."

Ostroff says additional costs are borne by patients and their insurance companies, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now refuse to pay a hospital when they deem an infection should not have occurred.

Several local hospitals had fewer infections than predicted, but some had more in 2010: central line bloodstream infections at Children's Home of Pittsburgh, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Children's Institute of Pittsburgh, and UPMC Passavant in critical care and ward locations; and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in specialty care areas. In 2009 UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside had more surgical site infections than predicted with cardiac surgery, and St. Vincent Health Center and Western Pennsylvania Hospital had more with abdominal hysterectomies.