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April 20, 2011

SC hospital-acquired infections drop, new infection rate data available

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In a recently published report from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Carolina was the only state among 17 reporting states to document a statistically significant reduction (30 percent) in blood infections from a central intravenous line, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

"This reduction took place from the first six months of 2009 to the last six months of the same year among continuously reporting hospitals," said Jerry Gibson, M.D., state epidemiologist and director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "The decline is evidence that S.C. hospitals are making progress in their efforts to eliminate hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)."

Dr. Gibson said more data on HAIs in S.C. for 2010 are available to the public.

"This is the third Hospital Infections Disclosure Act (HIDA) Annual Report presenting the data in a way that allows the public to compare hospital infection rates with data from the national reporting system," Dr. Gibson said. "These data are also used to measure facility, state, and national HAI prevention efforts and progress toward eliminating HAIs."

Dr. Gibson said hospitals in South Carolina began reporting certain hospital-acquired infection rates to DHEC in July 2007 and individual hospital HAI rate reports have been posted every six months. These reports are for hospital-acquired infections and do not include reports from other kinds of healthcare facilities.

"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," Dr. Gibson said. "They can be very serious and many of them are preventable. HAIs can increase both the cost and length of a hospital stay, and could even 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 $28 billion to $33 billion each year.

"When the public looks at the S.C. HIDA reports on the DHEC website, remember that no single source of information can 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 website to help people understand the HAI data reports. Reports are available from the HAI home page at: Click the Hospital-Acquired Infections Report for comparison reports by type of infection and for individual hospital reports, which are grouped by general bed size and listed alphabetically.


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

CDC state specific report:

For more information:
Dr. Kathleen Antonetti – (803) 898-2110
Email –
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email –