KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospital Infection Rates Down, But Patients Still Dying Of Preventable Causes

Hospitals and nursing homes have been trying to cut facility-acquired infection rates, which has worked better for some conditions than others. 

The New York Times: Infections At Hospitals Are Falling, C.D.C. Says
Federal health officials said there were about 722,000 hospital infections in 2011, far fewer than past estimates, which put the number around 1.7 million a year. At the 2011 rate, one in every 25 patients contracted an infection while in the hospital; by previous estimates, about one in 20 did. ... About 75,000 people with infections died in 2011, a rate of about one in nine people with infections, according to the new data, published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday (Tavernise, 3/26).

CNN: 1 In 25 Patients Get Infection In Hospital
Pneumonia and surgical-site infections were the most common types of infection -- each accounting for about 22% of all infections -- followed by gastrointestinal infections such as Clostridium difficile, urinary tract infections and infections of the bloodstream. While highlighting the grim reality that too many people become infected when seeking medical treatment in hospitals and other health care facilities, the study also shows progress from past estimates. ... bloodstream infections from central lines (lines inserted in the chest into a vein) dropped 44% between 2008 and 2012 -- a result, say experts, of requiring hospitals to follow a simple checklist of best practices (Hudson, 3/26).

And -

Reuters: Hospital Ratings Show Sharp Differences In Safety, Chance Of Dying
An analysis of government data on hospital safety, including how likely patients are to die of avoidable surgical complications, shows that hospitals vary markedly on these measures and that patients are at higher risk in some nationally-known facilities than at tiny hospitals little known outside their rural communities. The safety ratings of 2,591 hospitals, released by Consumer Reports magazine on Thursday, come at a time when estimates of the number of Americans killed by hospital errors is soaring (Begley, 3/27).

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