State better in fight against germs

Infections acquired in New York state hospitals declined in 2010, according to a new report, which i

Infections acquired in New York state hospitals declined in 2010, according to a new report, which indicated similar positive trends for most Capital Region hospitals.

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The full report on hospital-acquired infections is available at

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health released its fourth annual report on Hospital Acquired Infections and revealed what department Commissioner Dr. Nirva Shah said was proof of the difference that could be made with a concentrated approach to preventing disease.

“The progress made in New York to reduce hospital-acquired infections demonstrates strong collaboration and shows that an active commitment to patient safety can make a difference,” Shah said in a news release. “We commend hospitals across the state for their efforts to reduce infection rates and will continue to challenge health care providers to adopt best practices to further reduce infections.”

The state reductions in hospital-acquired infections included four categories of surgical-site infections that are tracked and basically all bloodstream infections.

Ellis Hospital was one of the standouts in the state report. It saw reductions in all the categories it reported figures for, including one category that was well below the state average.

“The shining star in this 2010 report occurred in our [medical/surgical intensive care unit],” said Eve Bankert, director of infection prevention for the hospital.

In this category, the hospital had one infection in 4,542 cases. That incident was in January 2010, and Bankert said they haven’t had another infection in that category in at least 18 months.

She attributed this success and the hospital’s overall performance to a comprehensive approach and a “zero tolerance” attitude toward hospital-acquired infections. Additionally, the hospital is constantly reacting to in-house infection numbers that allow them to hone their focus and properly address areas of concern, she said.

Bankert said the numbers in this report should give patients confidence when they’re being treated at Ellis. “Out patients are our consumers,” she said, “and they can compare us to other hospitals.”

The report was not encouraging for Glens Falls Hospital, whose rate of surgical-site infections exceeded the state average. Its rate of infections for hip surgical sites was three times the state’s rate and about five times higher than the hospital’s rate in 2009.

Hospital officials did not immediately comment on these figures.

Nathan Littauer Hospital was one of the Capital Region hospitals to make significant improvements in a problem area from 2009, as it reduced hip surgical site infections from a rate of 7.1 percent to zero in 2010.

St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam stumbled a little, with two more colon surgical site infections in 2010 than 2009 — increasing from three cases to five — which meant they more than doubled the state’s rate of colon surgical site infections.

In Albany, St. Peter’s Hospital continued its exemplary surgical care, reducing its already low rate of surgical site infections. For 2010, its rate was half of the state’s average.

The reduction in infections across the state has also produced millions of dollars in savings. A 37 percent reduction in “central line associated bloodstream infections” since 2007 led to fewer treatments and shorter visits, which saved more than $7.3 million. Additionally, a 15-percent decrease in surgical site infections since 2007 has been worth at least $7.9 million in savings.

In 2012, New York will add operations to their reporting requirements, and the state is in the process of adopting new federal rules that offer additional incentives for reducing hospital-acquired infections.

A spokesman from the state Department of Health would not comment beyond the news release on the performance of Capital Region hospitals.

Categories: Schenectady County

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