New York Hospitals Continue to Reduce Rates of Infections

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 10, 2013) – The number of infections acquired by patients while in New York hospitals continues to decline, according to a report issued by the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

The sixth-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 53 percent and rates of surgical site infections (SSIs) for selected procedures fell by 16 percent.

Since 2010, the rate of Clostridium difficile(C. difficile) infections rose by 14 percent among the 89 hospitals that switched to a more sensitive laboratory test capable of detecting more cases, but fell by 15 percent among the 88 hospitals which used the same type of test throughout the reporting period.

"Patients deserve the peace-of-mind of knowing the hospital they receive treatment from utilizes best practices to protect their safety," said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "Preventing hospital-acquired infections is a key component of patient safety, and we will continue to proactively work with hospitals to reduce the number of these infections."

The report presents 2012 hospital-acquired infection rates identified by hospitals for surgical site infections related to colon, cardiac bypass, hip replacement/revision surgeries, and hysterectomies performed through an abdominal incision; CLABSIs in adult, pediatric, and neonatal intensive care units; and 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 2011 for comparison. DOH conducts intensive audits to ensure complete and accurate reporting of all HAIs required to be reported.

Among the major findings of the report:

  • There has been a 53 percent 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 $18 million and $72 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 66 percent from 3.33 to 1.1 infections per 1,000 central line days between 2007 and 2012.
  • There has been a 16 percent reduction in SSIs since 2007. This decrease has helped to achieve estimated savings of between $12 million and $35 million due to decreased length of hospital stays and prevention of complications that require additional treatment.
    • The SSI rate for colon surgery decreased 14 percent from 5.9 to 5.1 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2012. However, the biggest decrease was between 2007 and 2008, and rates have been fairly stable since 2008.
    • The SSI rate for chest incision infections after cardiac bypass surgery decreased 23 percent, from 2.70 to 2.1 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2012. In addition, SSIs of the donor site from which the blood vessel is taken for the bypass dropped 47 percent, from 1.1 to 0.6 infections per 100 procedures between 2007 and 2012.
    • The SSI rate for hip replacement/revision surgery has remained constant at approximately 1 infection per 100 procedures since reporting began in 2008.
    • The SSI rate for abdominal hysterectomy surgery was reported for the first time in 2012 and is 2.2 infections per 100 procedures.
  • The C. difficile hospital-onset infection rate increased 14 percent, from 8.5 infections per 10,000 patient days in 2010 to 9.7 infections per 10,000 patient days in 2012 among hospitals that changed testing methods. The increase might be explained by the fact that more sensitive testing methods detect more cases. Among hospitals that did not change testing method during the reporting period, the hospital-onset infection rate decreased 15 percent, from 8.0 to 6.8 infections per 10,000 patient days.

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 prevention projects are expected to begin in 2013.

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

Data from the report is available at: