State publishes “crude rates” for hospital incurred infections

A  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article entitled “Report finds drop in hospital infections” states “A state Department of Health report released Thursday shows that Pennsylvania’s hospitals reported their patients contracted 25,914 infections in 2009, an estimated 12.5 percent fewer than a year earlier.

“Though the report seems to show we’re making progress, 25,914 is still a very large number and shows we still have our work cut out for us in bringing that number down,” Stephen Ostroff, the state’s acting physician general, said Thursday. “And there’s clearly some hospitals that have more work to do.”

Since the Post-Gazette believes the information is worthy of reporting for Allegheny County, NewsLanc believes it is also should be shared with Lancaster County.

The report “2009 Technical Report; Health Care Associated Infections (HCA) in Pennsylvania Hospitals” warns:

Crude rates for each facility are included for reference only. These crude rates are not risk adjusted and therefore are NOT valid for facility-to-facility comparisons. These numbers and rates will be used in future reports to illustrate infection trends within each facility.”

“Risk Adjustment of Facility SIRs: Crude SIRs may be misleading, because they do not account for, or include, factors that may alter HAI risk in a facility. The likelihood that an HAI will occur depends on many factors. Certainly the quality of infection control within a hospital is critical. But even when hospitals have excellent infection control, the risks will differ because the type and intensity of care varies from hospital to hospital. But more importantly, factors that are specific to the patient play a large role in the likelihood of an HAI. These include things like the age of the patient and their underlying health status. People with chronic underlying health problems or who have severely compromised immune systems due to medication or underlying disease are at higher risk for acquiring an infection when compared to someone who is much healthier even when all other factors are equal. Some hospitals see less healthy or complicated patients than others; some will perform certain procedures on extremely ill patients while others will not. Their HAI rates and SIRs may simply be a reflection of these differences rather than indicate one hospital is doing better or worse than another. If such factors are not taken into consideration when producing SIR results for each hospital, there is the potential a hospitals will look better or worse than another not because there is a greater risk for an HAI but because their patient populations or intensity of care are simply different.”

Unfortunately, we do not have all the information we need to account for patient-specific differences from hospital to hospital.”

That being said, the following are extracted from the report because of local interest and also to provide comparisons with hospitals from nearby counties and with those in Philadelphia.  (Apparently, not all hospitals are listed.)

“Crude Infection Rate” per thousand:

Lancaster General Hospital     2.89

Lancaster Regional   0.89

Heart of Lancaster Regional    1.04

York Hospital    2.85

Reading Hospital  2.16

Crozer Chester  Medical Center     1.45

Geisinger Medical Center       4.04

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital       4.12

Temple University    3.01

Hahnemann University Hospital   2.27

We encourage our readers to use the above links to  both read the Post-Gazette article and to examine the actual report with listings for hospitals throughout the state.

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Updated: June 26, 2010 — 10:06 am