Leapfrog: Hospital infection rates still too high

Watchdog group report finds high rate of central line and catheter-related infections
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Only a quarter of U.S. hospitals meet patient safety guidelines for patient safety regarding central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), according to a new study conducted by the Leapfrog Group and consulting firm Castlight Health.

While some strides have been made, there is a great deal of work to be done in fighting these serious--and sometimes fatal--infections, the report notes. 

"Every day, one out of 25 patients in U.S. hospitals contracts a healthcare-associated infection," according to the report. "These patients may experience longer hospital stays, significant discomfort, and even death. Overall, these infections cost nearly $10 billion annually, with one-fifth of this cost coming from central line-associated blood stream infections, and an additional $28 million coming from catheter-associated urinary tract infections."

Among the key findings: 

  • At the majority of hospitals (75 percent), the central line infection rate was too high, Only 25 percent of hospitals met The Leapfrog Group's target standardized infection ratio of zero for CLABSI. 
  • Only 25 percent of hospitals met Leapfrog's urinary tract infection standard. CAUTI is considered the most common type of healthcare-acquired infections.
  • Infection rates vary by state of residence, choice of hospital and metropolitan area. On average, New Hampshire had the safest hospitals, with 67 percent reporting a CLABSI rate of zero. Alternatively, Rhode Island and Maryland showed the most urgent need to improve, with no hospitals reporting a CLABSI rate of zero. 

The report went on to say that while rates of hospital-acquired infections are declining, (m)ore transparency and quality improvement are needed." Increased transparency and better reporting have helped to shed light on the problem, but clearly there is a great deal of work to be done.

"This report highlights the risks associated with CLABSI and CAUTI infections, which can leave a patient susceptible to hospital readmission due to a hospital-borne infection or sicker than when they arrived at the hospital," said Kristin Torres Mowat, senior vice president of plan development and data operations at Castlight Health, in an announcement about the report. "In our work with The Leapfrog Group, we strive to empower consumers with key quality and safety information to help them make informed healthcare decisions."

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the report (.pdf)

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