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HAIs on the rise in NY State

According to KaiserNework.org, the rate of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) has increased in New York State. What isn't clear is whether the rise is due to an actual increase in HAIs or the ability of the state to better track a larger number of them. According to Kaiser's report:

"The report found that about 3,200 of 1.45 million hospitalizations resulted in a hospital-acquired infection in the state, an increase from about 2,900 out of 1.48 million hospitalizations a year earlier. Coalition President Bruce Boissonnault said that the number represents "a small fraction of the infections. For example, many people do not show symptoms of an infection until they're discharged, and those patients would not be in that sample (used in the study)." This is the first year a health trend has worsened since the coalition began conducting the study six years ago, the AP/Times Union reports."

The report also cites that the overall likelihood of dying from a hospital procedure decreased from 8.5% for eight inpatient procedures in 2002 to 7.4% in 2006. State Health Department spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond said, "While it may be possible that infection rates are getting worse, it may also be true that hospitals are more vigilant at reporting infections, and that's good news for patients".

Transparency in reporting is a good and necessary first step in acknowledging the problem but we need to understand the full range of infections we need to be reporting against--and the practices and technologies that all hospitals should be implementing in order to eradicate them. Then the numbers will serve us in not only tracking the breadth of HAIs and their main causes, but the successes of hospitals that have initiated better protocols, tests and auditing systems.

Summary of report located here. 2008 New York State Hospital Report Card is available online.

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