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Pennsylvania releases first-in-the-nation report on patient infections for each hospital in state

Tuesday, November 14

Pennsylvania Releases First-In-The-Nation Report
On Patient Infections For Each Hospital in State

Consumer groups say report will spur hospitals to improve patient safety

Harrisburg, PA — Consumer groups hailed the release of a groundbreaking new report on hospital-acquired infections by the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4) as a critical tool for improving patient safety. The report is the first to tell consumers how many patients acquired infections and died at each of the state’s 168 general acute care hospitals. Copies of the report are available from PHC4 at www.phc4.org.
“Until now, consumers have been completely in the dark about their hospital’s record on infecting patients,” said Beth McConnell, director of the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PennPIRG Education Fund). “This report sheds light on a very serious problem and will help the public hold hospitals accountable for patient safety.”
The report also details the number of additional hospital days and charges for care associated with patient infections for each hospital. Previous reports by the state agency provided statewide, aggregate data on hospital infections. No other state or federal agency has compiled and released hospital-specific data reported directly from the facilities. Fifteen other states have adopted infection reporting requirements in recent years. Florida is the only other state that has released any data so far.
“It’s clear that some hospitals are doing better than others when it comes to protecting patients from infections,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign (www.StopHospitalInfections.org). “While we hope today’s report will encourage Pennsylvania hospitals to reduce their infection rates, their ultimate goal should be zero infections.”
In addition to the hospital-specific information on patient infections, the report also highlights a number of findings for the entire state:
• Hospitals reported 19,154 cases in which patients acquired infections in the hospital, or a rate of 12.2 per 1,000 cases.
• The mortality rate for patients with a hospital-acquired infection was 12.9 percent compared to 2.3 percent for patients without a hospital-acquired infection.
• The average length of stay for patients with a hospital-acquired infection was 20.6 days compared to 4.5 days for patients without infections.
• The average payment by insurers for a hospitalization in which a patient acquired an infection was $53,915, while the payment when a hospital-acquired infection was not present averaged $8,311.
“This report is a first – we are no longer looking at statistics based on estimates or extrapolated data,” said McGiffert. “These are real people who suffered from real infections. The personal and financial costs of hospital infections are staggering.”
Since July 2004, hospitals have been required to report to PHC4 the number of patients that acquired infections at their facilities. Ineffective compliance with the reporting rules by many hospitals prevented PHC4 from issuing hospital-specific reports until now.
Hospital-acquired infections are typically contracted as a result of inadequate sanitary practices or failure to adhere to infection prevention procedures. Many of the infections can be prevented with simple techniques, such as better hand-washing, more thorough cleaning of medical instruments or clinically proven interventions such as appropriate application of antibiotics before and after surgery.
The consumer groups say the PHC4 report will help patients compare hospitals and future reports will show them what progress has been made at their local hospital to reduce infections. A recent survey reported in the American Journal of Medical Quality found that 93 percent of consumers said knowing infection rates for a hospital or doctor would influence their selection. Hospitals will be able to compare their performance with others and will be better equipped to take more aggressive steps to improve patient care.
“Too many patients become needlessly sick and far too many die because hospitals are failing to follow proven infection control practices,” said McConnell. “Ultimately, hospital infection reports like this one will help prevent suffering and save lives.”
Pennsylvania is the first state in the nation to collect infection information from hospitals and release it to the public. Florida is the only other state that has released infection reports on its state’s facilities, but the data has been based on a review of administrative records – not information reported directly from hospitals.
In addition, infection reporting requirements have been adopted in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Vermont. Not all of these states require the public release of hospital specific information. For more information about these state laws, see: http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more_background/003544indiv.html
Lisa McGiffert, Consumers Union: 512-477-4431
Beth McConnell, PennPIRG: 215-732-3747