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Report Shows NH Hospitals At or Below National Average for Healthcare-Associated Infections

August 16, 2010
Lebanon, NH

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has issued its first Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Report, showing that all 26 acute-care hospitals in the state are at or below national averages for expected overall numbers of healthcare-associated infections, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center significantly below the national average.

The report, released August 16, is the first summary of HAI-related data reported by New Hampshire hospitals, the result of a 2006 state law requiring all hospitals to identify, track, and report selected HAIs to the Department of Health and Human Services.

HAI is an infection that a patient acquires during the course of receiving treatment for another condition within a healthcare setting. HAIs cause an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year in the United States resulting in over $30 billion in excess healthcare costs.

Overall, statewide infection rates were lower than expected based on 2006-2008 data from the National Healthcare Safety Network. The overall observed number of HAIs in New Hampshire hospitals was 26 percent fewer than expected based on national data. There were 46 percent fewer central line-associated bloodstream infections and 19 percent fewer surgical site infections.

"This is wonderful news for the people of New Hampshire and all those who come to our hospitals for care," said Kathryn B. Kirkland MD, DHMC's epidemiologist and a member of the Technical Advisory Workgroup that provides scientific and infection prevention expertise to the state's HAI Program. "We have been working collaboratively across the state on HAI prevention for several years, and the fact that all 26 acute care hospitals are at or below national statistics shows that we've succeeded in making HAI prevention a priority for all New Hampshire hospitals.

DHMC's overall number of infections is 36 percent fewer than expected based on national data; DHMC was one of only four hospitals in New Hampshire with lower than expected overall infection numbers.

The report measures data across six areas: overall infection rates, central line-associated bloodstream infections, central line insertion practices, surgical site infections (including coronary bypass, knee arthroplasty, and colon procedures), surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis administration, and influenza vaccination rates in hospital staff.

DHMC's performance was similar to or better than the statewide average in all but one category, documentation of central line insertion practices. In that category, DHMC's adherence to four standard practices for inserting central lines in patients was slightly lower than the state average.

DHMC officials attribute the percentage of adherence to the standards - an average of 90.1 percent compared to a state average of 93.5 percent - partly to a new system of documentation for the practices, taught to a large number of people who rotate in and out of critical care units. Because of DHMC's role as a teaching hospital, central line insertion standards and practices have been an area in which there are active ongoing improvement efforts, as part of a national collaborative.

See DHMC's summary of its HAI statistics at www.dhmc.org/qualityreports/list.cfm?metrics=SI; the full report, from the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services, can be found at www.dhhs.nh.gov

For more information contact Rick Adams at (603) 653-1910.

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