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State Hospitals Score Average or Better in Infection Survey

July 22, 2008
State hospitals score average or better in infection survey By Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News (Contact) Originally published 12:50 p.m., July 1, 2008 Updated 12:50 p.m., July 1, 2008 All but one of Colorado's hospitals are average or better in preventing central line infections, compared to hospitals nationwide, the first results stemming from a new mandatory reporting law shows. Six Colorado hospitals fared statistically better than most hospitals nationwide, each with infection rates of less than 1 in 2,000 central-line days, or zero infections out of more than 1,000. They are: Centura St. Anthony Central in Denver: 0 out of 1,313 Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley: 0 out of 1,202 Medical Center of Aurora: 1 in 3,555 Exempla St. Joseph Hospital in Denver: 1 in 3,052 Centura Porter Adventist Hospital, Denver: 1 out of 2,227 Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs: 1 in 2,221 Central lines are catheters that snake through veins ending close to the heart where they can infuse fluids or draw blood from patients. When they get infected they can cause the growth of dangerous bacteria, including staphylococcus. In all, 48 Colorado hospitals were rated. The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora fared worse than average with 12 infections out of 1,568 central-line days, for a rate of 7.7 out of 1,000 at its Adult Surgical Critical Care facility. The CU hospital has two other intensive-care units rated in the report — Adult Medical ICU and Adult Medical Cardiac ICU. Although those two units were given average ratings, they ranked worst in their category among similar Colorado hospitals. CU's Adult Medical ICU had nine infections out of 1,851; and its Adult Medical Cardiac ICU had four infections out of 614. Jackie Montgomery, spokeswoman for the CU hospital, said the hospital took immediate steps to improve practices when it saw the numbers. "We are taking care of very sick patients where there is a higher level of risk for infection ... still we had a number greater than the national average, so we reviewed and made changes. "We increased education on infection control," Montgomery said. "We now have a kit with all the tools in one place — everything you need to get a line in place. "And we've improved communication with the medical team," making sure protocols are followed as the transition is made between the doctors who insert the lines and the nurses who monitor them. The improvements seem to have worked. The CU hospital had no infections in February, March or April, the first three months in which the new protocols were in place. "This is exactly how health care improves — by getting this type of data out there and comparing hospitals and making changes," Montgomery said. The other hospitals rated in Colorado scored average. Other hospitals with relatively high infection rates, but still in the average category, were Community Hospital of Grand Junction, with a rate of 4.7 infections per 1,000 central-line days, and Centura Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville's rate of 4.3. A few smaller hospitals didn't have their scores disclosed publicly because they had fewer than 25 central-line patients, and scores could have betrayed patient confidentiality. "This information can help consumers make informed health decisions and lead to improved patient care at Colorado hospitals," said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which administers the program. State lawmakers in 2006 passed the law that mandates reporting of infection rates, and a public reporting of those rates each six months. The law went into effect on July 31 of last year, so this is the first report. Two more reports will be developed this year. A report on central line bloodstream infections in newborns will be available in the fall. An annual report will be published by January 15, 2009, and will contain information on surgical-site infections as well as central-line infections.