Pennsylvania News

More than 11,600 Pa. patients contracted infections during 2004 hospital stays

A new report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council has reported more than 11,600 patients contracted infections during hospital stays in Pennsylvania last year, and nearly 1,800 of them died.

Pennsylvania is just one of at least half a dozen states that requires hospitals to report information on infections, but the state is the first to publicize its findings. The latest report also shows that hospital-acquired infections in Pennsylvania added $2 billion to hospital costs and extended hospital stays by 205,000 days last year.

Supporters of the reporting system believe by collecting and analyzing the data it would help hospitals improve cleanliness, which would result in a reduction in the number of infections patients pick up and the cost of health insurance. Officials at the state agency that tracks the health care trends think the actual incidence of infection may be higher in actuality because of inconsistencies in the quarterly reports on four types of infections that hospitals were required to file last year.

The state adopted the reporting requirements in 2003, and the latest report is the council's first attempt to demonstrate existing problems. Based on an analysis of nearly 1.6 million admissions to 173 general acute care hospitals in 2004, the Pennsylvania report is not as clear cut, according to the president and chief executive officer of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, because individuals sometimes enter the hospital with infections.

Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and Virginia also require hospitals to report infections.

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