July 13, 2005

Thousands get infected in Pa. Hospitals: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 11,000 people caught some
sort of infection in Pennsylvania hospitals last year and
nearly 1,800 died from them, according to a report released on

The report is the first detailed look at the problem of
hospital-acquired infections in any U.S. state. Experts knew
such infections were a problem but have been unable to
precisely pinpoint them.

"Until now, we could only guess how many patients suffered
from hospital acquired infections in Pennsylvania or any other
state," said Beth McConnell, director of the Pennsylvania
Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

"By shining the spotlight on this serious patient safety
issue, we hope this report will help lead to improved infection
control practices in Pennsylvania and beyond."

The report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost
Containment Council is the first generated by a new state law
mandating the collection of hospital-specific infection

The study found that Pennsylvania hospitals reported 11,600
patients who got infections in 2004 while seeking medical care
and 1,793 patients died as a result.

Usually, such infections come from improper hygiene by
health care workers -- failure to wash hands properly or at
all, a failure to use gloves, inadequate sanitizing of
equipment and other mistakes.

Virginia, Nebraska, Nevada, and New York enacted laws this
year requiring the gathering of such data, while Florida,
Illinois and Missouri have legislation in the works.

The report estimates that the infections cost an extra $2
billion for 205,000 extra days of hospitalization.