Pennsylvania Hospitals Report High Infection Rates

In 2004, 11,668 patients in Pennsylvania hospitals acquired infections during their stays, causing them to spend an estimated 205,000 extra days, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency.

Complications of these hospital-acquired infections added nearly $350 million to the cost of care in 2004.

Of more than 1.5 million patients admitted, 1,793 patients who contracted hospital-acquired infections died—1,510 more deaths than expected.

Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require hospitals to report infections, and it is the first to publicly issue an analysis of those disclosures.
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Reducing the costs associated with hospital-acquired infections has been the focus of quality-improvement efforts by several organizations, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

While agreeing that public disclosure of quality and safety data helps the effort to make improvements, P. J. Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, said concerns remained about the scientific rigor of the infection data collected by the Council.

It is hoped that, over time, the information will be useful for payers and patients in making decisions about health care.