We trust hospitals to help make us well. What we don’t expect is to get sick in a hospital. But every year about 648,000 hospital patients develop infections during their stay and about 75,000 die. Some of the most threatening infections are caused by C. diff and MRSA bacteria, which can live on surfaces for days and pass from hand to hand. And MRSA is resistant to some antibiotics. Consumer Reports found that while some hospitals have been successful at cutting their infection rates, many have not.
Consumer Reports analyzed hospital-acquired infection data for thousands of hospitals across the U.S., and rated hospitals on how well they prevented MRSA and C. diff infections, and the results are sobering.
Only 6 percent received top scores for preventing both infections, with some
well-known hospitals having low ratings, including the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To prevent those infections, hospitals and hospital staff must pay close attention to cleanliness.
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Also essential is to avoid the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which can wipe out patients’ good bacteria and let bad bacteria like C. diff run wild.
Most infections are preventable, and if hospitals were committed to deploying evidence-based practices that reduce infections, tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year. Some hospitals are able to keep their infection rates low. The best prevent infections by designating special staff to oversee the use of antibiotics and by following clear protocols on cleanliness.
A spokesperson for the Mount Sinai Health System in New York said, "The Mount Sinai Health System is committed to patient and staff safety. Infection prevention and control efforts are a top priority. We have instituted continuing, comprehensive programs and evidence-based processes systemwide that have resulted in significant improvements, both in our rates of hospital-acquired infections and across other measures of patient safety."
In a statement, the Cleveland Clinic said, "Reducing infection is our top priority at Cleveland Clinic and we are working in a collaborative with both the Joint Commission and CDC to decrease the risk of hospital acquired infections."
And Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, released the following statement, "We applaud efforts to provide the public with valid and meaningful information about the quality of health care provided at our nation's hospitals. While ratings are useful starting points for comparing hospitals, they do not necessarily tell the whole story.
"The standardized infection ratio reported by Hospital Compare represents an estimate composed of several factors that can affect the overall rating. For example, the C. difficile ratio relies on the number of tests ordered by the hospital to determine clinical cases of the disease. Teaching hospitals tend to order more tests than other health care settings, and some of those tests can reveal colonization rather than disease. As there is no clinical surveillance system to collect this information, institutions that test more for these infections may appear to have a worse performance rate.
"According to Hospital Compare's website and taking confidence intervals into consideration, The Johns Hopkins Hospital's estimated standardized infection ratios for C. diff and MRSA were found to be "no different" than approximately 90 percent of hospitals nationwide.
"Delivering safe, quality care is the top priority for all Johns Hopkins Medicine hospitals and care providers. We believe that the efforts we’re making today will help improve our ratings. These include continued hand hygiene and environmental cleaning initiatives to minimize the spread of infections, and a Choosing Wisely campaign aimed at reducing unnecessary testing.
"Additional improvement initiatives and safety performance measures can be found on our patient safety and quality data website, available at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/patients/safety."
See the ratings for North Texas hospitals in the document below:
Dallas Hospitals CR (Text)
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.