New York Hospitals Make Progress in Lowering Rates of Infections

State 's Third Annual Report on Hospital-Acquired Infections Notes Reduced Rates for Central-Line Blood Stream Infections and Two Types of Surgical Site Infections

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 1, 2010) - New York's hospitals continue to make significant progress in reducing infections patients may acquire in hospitals, according to the third annual report on Hospital-Acquired Infections issued today by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

The report, which presents 2009 rates for select hospital-acquired infections by hospital name and New York region, found that the rate of central-line associated blood stream infections has fallen 18 percent since 2007. The rates of surgical site infections related to colon surgery and cardiac by-pass surgery fell by 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively, for the same period.

"New York's hospitals have continued to increase the safety of patients as a result of the sharing of information made possible by the State's hospital-acquired infections reporting system, as well as targeted prevention initiatives supported by the State in collaboration with hospitals," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D.

For example, Albany Medical Center, which serves the most severely ill patients in the Capital region, significantly reduced central-line associated bloodstream infections in its pediatric intensive care unit, reporting zero infections of this type in 2009.

"The truth of the matter is that patient infections occur all too frequently at hospitals across the U.S., needlessly jeopardizing patient care," said James J. Barba, president and chief executive officer of Albany Medical Center. "There are many things we can do, and that we are in fact doing, to minimize such occurrences. At Albany Medical Center, the staff of our neonatal intensive care unit led the way in recognizing this challenge and doing something very positive about it. We've since applied this diligent and detailed best practice approach to our pediatric intensive care unit and to other intensive care units with similarly outstanding results."

"The continued progress in making hospital stays safer for all New Yorkers is encouraging," said Arthur A. Levin, a member of the DOH Technical Advisory Workgroup on Hospital-Acquired Infections and director of the Center for Medical Consumers, a non-profit organization promoting public awareness about medical care safety and quality. "Public reporting, whether of hospital-acquired infections or cardiac surgery outcomes, shines a bright light on the comparative performance of hospitals throughout the state, and that light has been shown to encourage improvement. This report is also unique nationally because the State audits 100 percent of hospitals to ensure accuracy."

The report presents 2009 hospital-acquired infection rates identified by hospital for surgical site infections related to colon, cardiac bypass and hip replacement surgeries; and central-line associated blood stream infections in adult, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care units (ICUs). The report also provides individual hospitals' infection rates in 2008 for comparison.

Among the major findings of the report:

  • Since 2007, there has been an overall 18 percent reduction in adult/pediatric central-line associated blood stream infections in hospitals in New York State. In addition to protecting patients, the reduction achieved an estimated savings of between $1.7 million and $7 million.
  • Since 2007, there has been a 31 percent decrease in central-line related blood stream infection rates across all types of neonatal intensive care units, protecting the health of infants and achieving an estimated savings of between $765,000 and $3.1 million.
  • Since 2007, there has been an 11 percent overall decrease in surgical site infections related to colon surgery and a 14 percent overall decrease in chest infections related to cardiac bypass operations. The statewide rate of infections related to colon surgery was 5.3 percent in 2009, and 2.3 percent for chest infections related to cardiac bypass surgery.
  • Surgical site infection rates related to hip replacement surgery, first made reportable in 2008, did not change significantly but remained low in 2009 at a rate of 1.3 percent statewide.
  • In 2009, no hospital in New York State was found to have high rates of hospital-acquired infections across the board. A hospital that may have had a higher than average infection rate associated with one type of surgery did not have a high rate for all other surgical procedures or central-line associated blood stream infections.

Projects funded by DOH to prevent hospital-acquired infections have reported significant reductions in targeted infections, including:

  • A 67 percent decrease in neonatal intensive care unit central-line associated blood stream infections occurred in Regional Perinatal Centers, where DOH funded a prevention project. These facilities serve the highest risk newborns in the state.
  • 35 hospitals in the New York City area reported a 20 percent reduction in Clostridium difficile infections in connection with another prevention initiative. This is one of the first collaborative prevention projects in the country to prevent these very severe infections.
  • A 67 percent reduction in central-line associated blood stream infections in general medical or surgical wards followed changes in practices for inserting and maintaining central-lines.
  • Two prevention projects in different parts of the state reported significant reductions in bloodstream infections after instituting chlorhexidine bathing of patients in intensive and respiratory care units.

The full report, including hospital-specific results, is available at: