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Report: Hospital Infections Down Significantly

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new report out today from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council has good news for patients: the rate of infections contracted in hospitals is down.

The Delaware Valley Healthcare Council says the report shows a drop of more than 10 percent in what are called “healthcare-associated infections” at local hospitals. Those can be urinary tract infections from catheters or pneumonia from ventilators, for example.

Spokesperson Priscilla Koutsouradis says a 30 percent drop in bloodstream infections saved about $15-million in treatment costs and, statistics suggest, 73 lives.

“Hospital leaders and nurses, doctors, patient safety leaders have been working very hard at this, so the progress is good to see.”

The report says that, out of some two-million patients admitted to hospitals in Pennsylvania, 1.1 percent got infections in 2010. That was nearly 6 percent lower than the infection rate in 2009.

Koutsouradis says, locally, the news was even better, “For hospitals in the Philadelphia area, the total number of infections is down 11.7 percent.”

Koutsouradis says simple hand sanitizing has made a huge difference.

“We have them now in waiting areas in hallways, so we’ve made those hand hygiene stations available for everyone to use,” says Charlene Faucette, in charge of infection prevention at Chester County Hospital.

Faucette says each type of infection — from ventilator-related pneumonia to catheter-related urinary tract infections — require different approaches, “implementing better products perhaps, making sure that our staff had adequate training, that we’re utilizing these devices less and less so we’re minimizing risk to the patient.”

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