Oregonians who wish to investigate hospital infection rates can now do
so, as the state is one of ten that now requires hospitals to publicly
report them. Infections due to hospital exposure have risen across the
nation, and Oregon officials are hoping that publicizing the rates will
encourage hospitals to take measures to decrease the rate of infections
and to educate patients.
The rates provide valuable information, but they shouldn’t be taken
completely at face value. A small hospital with few infections might get
an above-average rate based on the numbers. Also, some facilities specialize
in patients with more critical cases, and those patients might be more
susceptible to infections and other issues. Also, the data is reported
by the hospitals themselves, so there is no third party to verify the
accuracy of the rates.
At any rate, no pun intended, the figures are interesting and often telling.
For instance, Adventist Medical Center in Portland joined a safety campaign
designed to decrease the rate of central-line infections in the intensive
care unit in 2006. Since undertaking the campaign, which involves some
basic safety measures, the hospital has had zero central-line infections.
Before, the hospital had up to six patients per year suffer from such
infections. Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis also fared
well in terms of central line infections.
The worst culprits in terms of central line infections were Oregon Health
Sciences University Hospital in Portland, McKenzie-Willamette Medical
Center in Springfield, and Tuality Healthcare in Hillsboro. All three
had three times the state average of central line infections.