Infection rates in the intensive care units of the 11 HHC hospitals are down for the third year in a row and have dramatically dropped since the public hospital system launched an aggressive patient safety agenda to reduce preventable deaths and unnecessary hospital stays.
"Our results are evidence that we are now winning the battle against common hospital acquired infections through increased vigilance, strict adherence to best clinical practices and our relentless focus on optimal hand hygiene. The decline in infection rates represent more than 1,000 infections prevented and a savings of nearly $16 million in healthcare costs." said HHC President Alan D. Aviles.
HHC achieved a 90% percent reduction in the rate of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and a 65% reduction in the rate of central line bloodstream infections among adult patients in intensive care units. Central line infections at HHC hospital ICUs dropped to 2.7 infections per 1,000 patient days in 2008 from 7.6 in 2005. Over the last four years, the rates of VAP dropped to 1.5 in 2008 from 10.5 in 2005.
"Remarkably, six ICUs in four hospitals -- Coney Island, Elmhurst, Kings County and Lincoln -- went without a central line infection during all of 2008. And ICUs at Bellevue, Coney Island, Elmhurst, Harlem, Kings County, Lincoln and Woodhull went the full year without a VAP infection," Aviles said.
Hospital-acquired infections are a nationwide problem. It has been estimated that each year nearly two million patients get an infection while being treated in our nation's hospitals, and almost 100,000 of them die. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates the cost of hospital-acquired infections to be as high as $27.5 billion each year.
Aviles attributes the dramatic reduction in infection rates at HHC to the adoption of proven, lifesaving interventions, including a series of independent steps, called bundles, that when done together typically result in significantly better outcomes.
To reduce central line infections, HHC hospitals follow a bundle of interventions that begins with hand washing, followed by the use of a better-acting skin antiseptic, the selection of the optimal catheter site, and the prompt removal of unnecessary lines, among other measures. To reduce VAP rates, HHC follows a bundle that includes elevating the head of the bed, performing oral hygiene daily for ventilator patients and taking steps to reduce the risk of blood clots and pressure ulcers.
The new 2008 rates were posted on the HHC In Focus section of the HHC website, www.nyc.gov/hhc, and is part of the public hospital system's transparency initiative to voluntarily share information on hospital quality and safety with the public.