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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 22, 2010

DHEC posts annual hospital infection rates report

COLUMBIA - Data about hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in South Carolina are available to the public, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

“This is the second Hospital Infections Disclosure Act Annual Report presenting the data in a way that allows the public to compare hospital infection rates with data from the national reporting system,” said Jerry J. Gibson, M.D., director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. “Hospitals in South Carolina began reporting certain hospital acquired infection rates to DHEC in July 2007. Since reporting began, two preliminary six-month reports and the 2008 annual report have been released to the public. These reports are for hospital-acquired infections and do not include other kinds of healthcare facilities. The standardized infection ratios in these reports are the best way we have at this time to compare a hospital to others like it nationally. They are not a good way to compare from one year to the next, because the national standard infection rates change each year.”

According to Dr. Gibson, infections that patients get while they are being treated in hospitals and other health care facilities are a major public health problem in the United States. These healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can be very serious and many of them are preventable. HAIs can increase both the cost and length of a hospital stay, and can result in death. Based on 2002 data, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1.7 million HAIs occur in hospitals each year and 99,000 deaths were attributed to HAIs. The CDC estimates that direct medical costs for HAIs in U.S. hospitals, adjusted for 2007 prices, range from about $35.7 billion to $45 billion each year.

“When looking at these reports, remember that no single source of information should be used to determine overall quality of care in a hospital,” Dr. Gibson said. “A hospital’s experience with HAIs is only one thing to consider when choosing a facility. You should consider the advice of your physician and the experience of the facilities and surgeons. Any factors that are unique to you should be considered as well. Keep in mind that some patients have conditions that make them more likely to get infections. A patient’s age, underlying diseases, and level of illness all affect their risk for infection.”

Dr. Gibson said that information on hospital-acquired infections and the “Definition of Terms” is available on the HAI Web site to help people understand the HAI data reports. Reports are available from the HAI home page at http://www.scdhec.gov/hai. Click the Hospital-Acquired Infections Report for comparison reports by type of infection and by the individual hospital reports, which are grouped by general bed size and listed alphabetically.

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For more information:
Dixie Roberts - (803) 898-0364
E-mail - robertdf@dhec.sc.gov
or
Thom Berry - (803) 898-3885
E-mail - berrytw@dhec.sc.gov

NOTE TO EDITORS and REPORTERS: Hospitals submit their data to DHEC through the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) data system.

BNR1948