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Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 8 | April 19, 2013
Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 8 | April 19, 2013

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 detailed analysis (PDF) of four years of patient infection data issued by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

“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,” said Martin Lustick, M.D., senior vice president, corporate medical director, Excellus BCBS.

New York state began tracking and reporting hospital-specific rates of surgical site infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections in 2007. Excellus BCBS’s analysis 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 dipped 33 percent in the Finger Lakes region.
  • In 2011, the Finger Lakes region had the lowest surgical site infection rate in upstate New York.
  • 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.

“Differences in upstate New York hospital infection control practices may partially explain regional variations uncovered in the Excellus BCBS report,” Lustick said. “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, Lustick said. 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, according to the Excellus BCBS report. 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.

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


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