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December 6, 2023
David Burda
Outcomes Policy System Dynamics

Yes, Some Good Patient Safety News

Better check the byline on this blog post. It’s about patient safety improving at hospitals.

Yes, I’m the author. I also try not to be a hypocrite. If I write about patient safety dropping hospitals, like I did in this monthly column, “Dead Patient Walking,” then I feel compelled to write about it when it gets better like it did according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest annual report on hospital infection rates.

The agency’s 2022 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report, released Dec. 1, is based on hospital infection data self-reported to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network by nearly 4,000 hospitals, most of them general acute-care inpatient facilities.

The annual report looks at changes in standardized infection ratios (SIRs) for six types of HAIs:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs)
  • Ventilator-associated events (VAEs)
  • Surgical site infections (SSIs)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream events (MRSA)
  • Clostridioides difficile events (C. difficile)

SIRs are the ratios between observed events and predicted events. SIRs less than one mean there were fewer events than expected based on past performance data and trends. The new report compares the SIRs for the six types of infections in 2021 and 2022.

Here’s what the new report said:

  • The SIR for CLABSIs dropped 9%.
  • The SIR for CAUTIs dropped 12%.
  • The SIR for VAEs dropped 19%.
  • The SIR for SSIs rose 3%.
  • The SIR for MRSA dropped 16%.
  • The SIR for C. difficile dropped 3%.

If hospitals were a football team, their record in 2022 was 5-1. That’s a big turnaround from 2021, when their record was 1-4-1, as I noted last year in “Hospital Infection Regression.”

“Each day, approximately 1 in 31 U.S. (hospital) patients and 1 in 43 nursing home residents contracts at least one infection in association with their healthcare, underscoring the need for improvements in patient care practices in U.S. healthcare facilities,” the CDC said in its new report. “While much progress has been made, more needs to be done to prevent healthcare-associated infections in a variety of settings.”

There you have it. Good job and keep up the good work. The only way to go is down.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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