Hospital Infections No Longer a Secret

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.