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Connecticut Department of Public Health Releases First Hospital-Specific Report on Healthcare Associated Infections

Hartford, Conn. — The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recently released a report on a class of infections acquired in Connecticut acute care hospitals. The report will guide future hospital and state prevention activities, and assess progress in preventing healthcare-associated infections.

“This report is the first of its kind in Connecticut, allowing consumers to view infection data reported by Connecticut hospitals,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Hospitals can also use it to assess their infection control programs and track their progress in reducing health care associated infections against national data.” 

The report presents data on a preventable, but serious and potentially fatal type of healthcare-associated infection called central line-associated bloodstream infections. Connecticut’s 30 acute care hospitals are required to report these infections to DPH using standard definitions and protocols. The report compares hospital data collected from October 1, 2009 through September 20, 2010 to the latest available national benchmark data collected between 2006-2008.

Overall, the number of central line-associated bloodstream infections in Connecticut is 29% lower than would be predicted based on data reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by healthcare facilities across the country. Among the Connecticut hospitals, two facilities have an infection rate that is statistically lower than their national benchmark. The remainder of the hospitals show no statistically significant differences from the national benchmark.

“Our analysis suggests that the hard work of healthcare providers and hospitals is paying off, and motivates us to make further progress against healthcare-associated infections,” stated Dr. Mullen.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections caused by a wide variety of common and unusual bacteria, fungi, and viruses during the course of receiving medical care. A central line-associated bloodstream infection is an infection that occurs when germs enter the bloodstream through a central line, a tube that healthcare providers place in a large vein in the neck, chest, or arm to give fluids, blood, or medications or to do certain medical tests quickly. This type of infection can increase the patient’s stay in the hospital, increase the cost of medical care, and even cause death.

National experts have given the highest priority to the public reporting of central line-associated bloodstream infections based on criteria that includes the frequency, severity and preventability of the infection, the likelihood that the infection can be detected and reported accurately, and the availability of well established prevention strategies.

Healthcare-associated infections in hospitals are a significant burden in the United States, associated with approximately 99,000 deaths and up to $30 billion in costs each year.

In 2006, the Connecticut legislature passed Public Act No. 06-142, “An Act Concerning Hospital Acquired Infections.” The intent of the law was to:
Promote patient safety and improve health outcomes by reducing the risk of healthcare associated infections.
Develop a meaningful and valid healthcare associated infection-reporting system to healthcare providers and the public.
Utilize the information collected to encourage and support efforts to decrease HAIs in Connecticut.
Increase public awareness about effective measures to reduce the spread of infections in communities and in healthcare settings.

The law established the Committee on Healthcare Associated Infections and charged it with advising DPH with respect to the development, implementation, operation, and monitoring of a mandatory reporting system for HAIs in Connecticut. The law requires hospitals to report specific categories of HAIs to the DPH. The law also requires DPH to submit a report on the information collected by the HAI reporting system to the Connecticut General Assembly, make it available to the public, and post the report on the DPH website.

To access the report and view the DPH Healthcare Associated website, please visit www.ct.gov/dph/hai.

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Posted April 12, 2011

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