Connecticut hospitals scored well compared with health care facilities nationally when it comes to the frequency of central line-associated bloodstream infections—potentially fatal infections that can occur when patients are treated at acute care hospitals.
A report released Wednesday by the Connecticut Department of Public Health found that the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections in Connecticut is 29 percent lower than would be predicted, based on reported data, by health care facilities across the country.
The report compared hospital data collected from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 20, 2010 to national benchmark data collected between 2006-2008. Data from Connecticut’s 30 acute care hospitals show that two hospitals, Yale-New Haven Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, had an infection rate statistically lower than their national benchmark. The rest showed no statistically significant differences from the national benchmark.
“This report is the first of its kind in Connecticut, allowing consumers to view infection data reported by Connecticut hospitals,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Our analysis suggests that the hard work of healthcare providers and hospitals is paying off.”
Bloodstream infections can occur when a patient in an intensive care unit receives a central line – a tube usually placed in a large vein of the neck or chest to deliver treatment. If the tube isn’t inserted correctly or isn’t kept clean, it can become a pipeline for germs to enter the body and cause life-threatening blood stream infections.
Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control released a report that the number of central line infections in intensive care patients nationally fell to 18,000 in 2009 from 43,000 in 2001, a 58 percent drop. This represents up to 27,000 lives saved and $1.8 billion in cumulative healthcare costs avoided.
Educational campaigns aimed at improving techniques for managing the lines in intensive care units were cited as the reason for the improvement. Still, CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, cautions against over-confidence, nothing that these infections still affect about 80,000 patients a year, killing about 10,000 of them.
Connecticut health officials are doing their part to reduce these numbers. In 2006, the General Assembly passed a law creating a mandatory reporting system for healthcare associated infections. In late 2010, the state began planning a process to monitor and reduce hospital-associated infections in dialysis clinics.
Healthcare-associated infections in hospitals are a significant burden in the United States, associated with about 99,000 deaths and up to $30 billion in costs annually.
To access the full report click here.
This is great news, and a big change from about 15 years ago, when a YNHH surgeon said, “We control infections with antibiotics, not antiseptics.”