New York Hospitals Make Progress in Reducing Rates of Infections

State Health Department's Fifth Annual Report on Hospital-Acquired Infections Shows Decline in Rates for Central-Line Blood Stream Infections and Certain Surgical Site Infections but Slight Increase in Clostridium difficile Infection Rates

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 29, 2012) – The number of infections acquired by patients while in New York hospitals has declined since 2007, according to a new report issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

The fifth-annual report on hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), which includes rates of infections for individual hospitals, found that since 2007 the rate of central-line associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) has fallen 41 percent and rates of surgical site infections (SSIs) for selected procedures fell by 13 percent. The rate of Clostridium difficile infections rose by three percent, although part of that increase may be attributable to the increased use of more sensitive laboratory tests that can detect more cases.

"The findings of this latest hospital-acquired infections report are positive, but we will continue to work with hospitals to achieve additional reductions," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "Hospital-acquired infections are preventable and we will encourage health care providers to adopt best practices to better protect patient safety."

The report presents 2011 hospital-acquired infection rates identified by hospitals for surgical site infections related to colon, cardiac bypass, and hip replacement/revision surgeries; CLABSIs in adult, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care units; and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections identified on admission, during hospital visits, and on readmission within four weeks after discharge from the same hospital. The report also provides individual hospitals' infection rates in 2010 for comparison.

Among the major findings of the report:

  • There has been a 41% reduction in adult/pediatric/neonatal CLABSIs in New York hospitals since 2007, which has not only protected the health of patients, but also led to an estimated savings of between $12 million and $48 million due to decreased length of hospital stays and preventing the need for additional treatment.
    • The biggest reduction occurred in surgical intensive care units, where the CLABSI rate decreased 57%, from 3.33 to 1.42 infections per 1,000 central line days between 2007 and 2011.
  • There has been a 13% reduction in SSIs since 2007. This decrease has helped to achieve estimated savings of between $9.4 million and $27.3 million due to decreased length of hospital stays and prevention of complications that require additional treatment.
    • The SSI rate for colon surgery decreased 10%, from 5.94 to 5.34 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2011.
    • The SSI rate for chest incision infections after cardiac bypass surgery decreased 29%, from 2.70 to 1.92 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2011. In addition, SSIs of the donor site from which the blood vessel is taken for the bypass dropped 39%, from 1.13 to 0.69 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2011.
    • The SSI rate for hip replacement/revision surgery has remained constant at 1.2 infections per 100 procedures since reporting began in 2008.
  • The C. difficile hospital-onset infection rate increased 3%, from 8.25 infections per 10,000 patient days in 2010 to 8.48 infections per 10,000 patient days in 2011. This is only the second year that C. difficile rates have been included in the HAI annual report and results may be affected by the increased use of more sensitive tests.

Projects funded by DOH to prevent hospital-acquired infections continue to result in reductions in targeted infections and improvements in the quality of patient care and safety. Projects have included interventions to reduce CLABSIs and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. New York State conducts intensive audits to ensure complete and accurate reporting of all HAIs required to be reported.

The full report, including hospital-specific results, is available on the DOH web site at: