Hospital Infections Rise In Rhode Island

Mar 26, 2014

The CDC released an update today on the nation's and individual state's progress toward reducing the rate of infections acquired in hospitals. The headline, nationwide, is that we're making progress. In Rhode Island, not as much.

Progress report for Rhode Island on preventing hospital-acquired infections.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There's a national action plan to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), and this is the five year progress report. It sets up some baselines for infection rates, and in three out of four categories of infections, Rhode Island had infection rates worse than the national baselines (here's the Rhode Island specific report). Those infection categories include:

- Central line-associated bloodstream infections

- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections

- Surgical site infections from colon surgery

- Surgical site infections from abdominal hysterectomies

Rhode Island did better on the first category - central line-associated infections. But about 30% of RI hospitals had rates worse than the national baseline in the other categories.

What's all the fuss about? From the national action plan:

"At any given time, about 1 in every 20 inpatients has an infection related to hospital care. These infections cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars each year and lead to the loss of tens of thousands of lives. In addition, HAIs can have devastating emotional, financial and medical consequences."

Bear in mind these results are only from acute care hospitals. There's much more to the story when you factor in long term care and other health care settings. That data should be included next time.

It looks like catheter-related urinary tract infections are on the rise all over the place. And with news out of our own Rhode Island Hospital that those are increasingly caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, we've got to start looking at some other prevention and treatment methods.

I'm not suggesting our state's hospitals aren't safe. They're full of health care professionals working hard to help patients. And the work to prevent HAIs is ongoing here. Rhode Island does indeed have a state plan to reduce HAIs, here.