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Employer News | April 29, 2013
Employer News | April 29, 2013

New Univera Healthcare Report Finds Upstate New York Hospitals Making Great Strides in Infection Control

Upstate New York hospitals have been more successful than state facilities as a whole in lowering rates of two commonly reported hospital-acquired infections, according to a detailed analysis (PDF) of four years of patient infection data issued by Univera Healthcare.

“Hospital-acquired infections are serious but avoidable public health problems that reduce a patient’s ability to heal, causing suffering, extended hospital stays, expensive treatments and even death,” commented Richard Vienne, D.O., vice president and chief medical officer, Univera Healthcare. 

“In an ideal world, no patient would ever get an infection from a hospital stay,” Vienne continued. “Recognizing that we don’t live in a perfect world, and that systematic reporting is central to the success of hospital-acquired infection control programs, New York state began tracking and reporting hospital-specific rates of surgical site infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections in 2007.”

Univera Healthcare's analysis (PDF) of the New York state reports finds that each year between 2008 and 2011, upstate New York hospitals had lower rates of these two, common types of hospital-acquired infections than New York state hospitals. It also notes that hospitals in New York state ˗ especially those in upstate New York ˗ have made great strides in reducing infection rates:

  • Surgical site infection rates in upstate New York hospitals decreased by almost 8 percent between 2008 and 2011, when surgical site infection rates among New York state hospitals decreased 3 percent. During that time, surgical site infection rates dropped 33 percent in the Finger Lakes region, 13 percent in Utica/Rome/the North Country and .4 percent in Western New York. Surgical site infection rates increased by almost 11 percent in Central New York (even though they were among the lowest of all upstate New York regions in 2008 and 2011) and 4 percent in Central New York’s Southern Tier (the Binghamton and Elmira region).
  • In 2011, the surgical site infection rate per 100 procedures in upstate New York hospitals was 1.97, while the rate in New York state hospitals was 2.10. Upstate New York hospitals in the Finger Lakes region recorded the lowest surgical site infection rate (1.49 infections per 100 procedures), while hospitals in Central New York’s Southern Tier and Western New York had the highest surgical site infection rates (2.35 and 2.34 per 100 procedures, respectively).
  • Between 2008 and 2011, central line-associated bloodstream infection rates in upstate New York decreased 46 percent, while central line-associated bloodstream infection rates in New York state hospitals decreased 42 percent. The largest decline in central line-associated bloodstream infections among upstate New York hospitals was in Utica/Rome/the North Country (79 percent), followed by the Finger Lakes (65 percent), Central New York (50.5 percent), Western New York (14 percent) and Central New York’s Southern Tier (8 percent).
  • In 2011, the central line-associated bloodstream infection rate per 1,000 days in upstate New York hospitals was 1.12, while the rate in New York state hospitals was 1.37. In upstate New York, Utica/Rome/the North Country hospitals had the lowest central line-associated infection rate (.34 infections per 1,000 days), and Western New York hospitals recorded the highest rate (1.52 infections per 1,000 days).

“Differences in upstate New York hospital infection control practices may partially explain regional variations uncovered in the Univera Healthcare report,” said Vienne. “While clinical surveillance systems that use sophisticated techniques to compile and analyze hospital data help hospitals spot infection patterns and target areas for improvement, not all hospitals have them.”

Continuing upstate New York efforts to lower hospital-acquired infection rates will help patients avoid additional suffering, save lives and slow the growth in health care costs, according to Vienne.

In 2010, New York state reported about 108,000 hospital-acquired infections, including 24,000 in upstate New York. Those hospital-acquired infections led to nearly 5,000 New York state deaths, 1,100 of which were in upstate New York.

If upstate New York hospitals could lower the number of hospital-acquired infections by even 20 or 40 percent, there would be 5,000 to 10,000 fewer infections and 200 to 400 associated deaths, the Univera Healthcare report concludes. That would also annually save upstate New York state hospitals between $68 million and $137 million.

Efforts to eliminate hospital-acquired infections are advancing on federal, state and local levels. One strong motivating force behind reducing hospital-acquired infections, for example, is the Medicare payment penalty.

In addition, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $40 million to help state health departments fight hospital-acquired infections, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 improved the ability of states to measure, report and prevent hospital-acquired infections.

A collaboration between the federal government and 26 Hospital Engagement Networks, including The Healthcare Association of New York State and the Greater New York Hospital Association, targets a 40 percent reduction in hospital-acquired infection rates by the end of 2013.

“All of these efforts put upstate New York in the forefront of the fight against hospital-acquired infections,” said Vienne. “It’s absolutely necessary that these endeavors continue, because fewer hospital-acquired infections can mean less pain and suffering and fewer deaths among upstate New York residents and several million dollars in savings for the state’s health care system.”

View the complete report, The Facts About Hospital-Acquired Infections in Upstate New York (PDF)


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