A report released Thursday by the state Department of Health shows that Pennsylvania has reduced the number of healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, reported by hospitals. From 2008 to 2009, there was a 12.5 percent decrease in HAIs, which are defined as infections that patients acquired while in a healthcare setting and were not present when they were admitted for care.
“Curbing – and ultimately eliminating – healthcare-associated infections is an urgent priority for two reasons: doing so prevents unnecessary illnesses and deaths, and it also helps to help eliminate the avoidable costs of treating these infections,” said Governor Rendell. “While the 12.5 percent decline in HAIs is encouraging, there is still more important work remaining to be done.”
A total of 25,914 HAIs were reported by the 250 hospitals that were in continuous operation during 2009. This translates to an overall statewide rate of 2.37 HAIs per 1,000 patient days of hospitalization. If you adjust the 2008 numbers to a 12-month time frame, the data suggests there is a 12.5 percent decrease in the number of HAIs between the two time periods.
The report includes HAIs for each hospital, with an emphasis on two specific infection types: urinary tract infections associated with the use of a catheter (CAUTI) and bloodstream infections associated with the use of a central line (CLABSI). These infections are among the more common HAIs and were selected by the department and the HAI Advisory Committee for hospital-to-hospital comparisons and to measure trends over time. Future reports will analyze the patterns of another common type of HAI — surgical site infections.
The most commonly reported HAIs in 2009 were surgical site infections (24.2 percent), urinary tract infections (23.7 percent), gastrointestinal infections (18.7 percent), and blood stream infections (12.6 percent). Among the urinary tract infections, 64 percent were associated with a urinary catheter. Among the blood stream infections, 67 percent were associated with a central line.
The data is reported by hospitals under Act 52, which Gov. Rendell signed in 2007 as part of his continuing efforts to improve the quality and delivery of health care under his Prescription for Pennsylvania initiative.