Pennsylvania’s Department of Health released a report yesterday that found declining infection rates in hospitals in the state.
The report says in 2009, 25,914 people were infected while in hospitals in Pennsylvania – that’s a 12.5% drop from 2008.
President of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative Karen Wolk Feinstein says the Department of Health will audit that information to check for any reporting errors or omissions from hospitals.
Wolk Feinstein says one of the most common hospital contaminations is a central line bloodstream infection -- that’s when a catheter infects an important artery or vein, resulting in a 20% mortality rate. She says central line infections have been reduced by 68% in southwestern Pennsylvania hospitals.
Wolk Feinstein says Medicare and many private insurers have stopped paying for medical bills caused by hospital infections.
“With this kind of public reporting, with Department of Health sanctions, with financial disincentives, we are closing the door on the fact that for a while, you actually got rewarded as a provider for these infections and you got larger payments.”
She says hospital visits without infections averaged about $35,000 in Pennsylvania, but patients and their insurers would usually pay a bill closer to $192,000 if the person was infected. She says now that insurers have stopped covering these costs, hospitals have incentive to put effort into infection control.