The number of infections acquired by patients while inside New York hospitals has declined since 2007, according to a recent state Department of Health report.
But infections from the nasty, life-threatening bacteria of the colon known as Clostridium difficile have risen 3 percent from 2010 to 2011 — in part because of more sensitive laboratory tests.
The state has monitored hospital-acquired infections since 2007, finding it helps to significantly reduce infections and identify trends.
“The findings of this latest hospital-acquired infections report are positive, but we will continue to work with hospitals to achieve additional reductions,” said state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah in a news release.
Last year, 177 New York hospitals reported infections acquired in the blood stream from central lines, which are tubes placed into a large vein that give fluids and medications, or withdraw blood. An infection can occur when bacteria enters the blood through these lines, which are monitored across eight different intensive care units ranging from cardiothoracic surgery intensive care units to neonatal ICUs.
New York hospitals have shown dramatic improvement in these infection rates since reporting began in 2007. Rates have dropped anywhere from 17 percent to 57 percent, depending on the ICU, since 2007. They’re based on the number of infections per 1,000 central line days, which is the total number of days a central line has been in place for all patients in one ICU at a given time.
Hospitals were also required to report surgical site infections following colon, hip replacement and coronary artery bypass graft surgeries. These infections have fallen 13 percent since 2007, saving anywhere from $9.4 million to $27.3 million, according to the report. They’re based on the number of infections per 100 procedures.
In 2011, hospitals reported a total 21,374 cases of C. difficile among 2.3 million hospital admissions. Of these, 10,381 were hospital-onset cases — a 3 percent increase since reporting began in 2010. These rates are based on the number of cases per 10,000 patient days.
State officials said the increase was likely related to the increased use of more sensitive testing methods, but additional education and collaborative efforts are needed to reduce the rates.
The state Department of Health performs monthly checks for data consistency and reviews medical records during audits. Staff attempt to audit most hospitals every year, but recent staffing shortages has caused a decrease in the number of hospitals audited between 2007 and 2011.
Next year, the state Department of Health plans to monitor voluntarily reported catheter-associated urinary tract infection data.
Here’s how local hospitals fared with hospital-acquired infections:
• Albany Medical Center saw an increase in its surgical site infection rate from 0.88 percent in 2010 to 0.93 percent in 2011. Its blood stream infection rate dropped from 0.61 to 0.56 over the same time, while its C. difficile rate increased from 5.4 to 8.5.
• Albany Memorial Hospital saw an increase in surgical site infection rate from 0.89 percent in 2010 to 1.32 percent in 2011. Its blood stream infection rate increased from 1.84 to 4.85, which ranked worse than the state average. Its C. difficile rate increased from 1.7 to 4.4.
• Ellis Hospital saw a decrease in its surgical site infection rate from 0.59 percent in 2010 to 0.52 percent in 2011. Its blood stream infection rate increased from 0.14 to 0.47. Its C. difficile rate increased from 3.4 to 4.5.
• Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville experienced no surgical site or blood stream infections in 2010 and 2011. Its C. difficile rate decreased from 9.8 percent in 2010 to 6.6 percent in 2011.
• Saratoga Hospital saw a decrease in its surgical site infection rate from 1.28 percent in 2010 to 1.22 percent in 2011. Its blood stream infection rate increased from 0.58 to 1.27. Its C. difficile rate decreased from 3.6 to 1.2.
• St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam saw an increase in its surgical site infection rate from 1.46 percent in 2010 to 1.8 percent in 2011. It experienced no blood stream infections in 2010 or 2011. Its C. difficile rate dropped from 6.2 to 4.8.
• St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany saw an increase in its surgical site infection rate from 0.57 percent in 2010 to 0.92 percent in 2011. Its blood stream infection rate remained stable at 1.07 for both years. Its C. difficile rate rose from 3.6 to 3.9.