Thursday, January 14, 2010/lk
Sunnyside Community Hospital has a zero percent infection rate when it comes to using central lines and ventilators.
This information and much more is now available to Washington residents, who can now compare and research infection rates for hospitals in Washington state thanks to a new website offered by the Washington State Department of Health.
According to the website, staff at Sunnyside Community Hospital had to use ventilators 10 times on patients in the hospital's ICU and used central lines a total of 30 times. No numbers were available for infection rates in surgeries performed at the hospital, however.
According to the Department of Health, infections that develop during or soon after care in a hospital are known as health care associated infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these types of infections are one of the top 10 leading causes of death nationwide and many of them are preventable.
The new website gives consumers a chance to use infection rates to help make health care decisions.
"Patient safety is our priority and effective infection control is a key," said Secretary of Health Mary Selecky. "People now have easy access to information about infection rates in hospitals that they didn't have before.
"Our website allows everyone to take better control of their health and feel confident about health care choices they make for their families."
The website tracks infections cases among three areas. They are central lines, ventilators and surgery.
Centrals lines are long tubes inserted in the neck, chest, arm or leg that end near the heart. They are used to give fluids or drugs, take blood samples or monitor pressure inside arteries of the heart. They can become infected if enough germs move through connections in these lines.
Ventilators are complex machines attached to patients who cannot breathe by themselves. Tubing that connects a ventilator directly to a patient's lungs bypasses parts of the throat which prevent gagging. Pneumonia, an infection, can occur if enough germs enter the air stream or leak around the tubing.
Surgery creates a risk of infection that depends on how sick a patient is, how skillful a surgeon is and how many germs enter a wound during or immediately after an operation.
The website can be accessed by going to www.doh.wa.gov/. Scroll down and click on the link healthcare associated infection rates available to the public.
Prosser Memorial Hospital is not listed on the website. According to Megan Ransom, assistant community relations manager at Prosser Memorial Hospital, the infections reported are from hospitals' intensive care units. Since Prosser doesn't have an ICU there are no infections to report.
The hospital, like Sunnyside, does have a surgical unit and will begin reporting those statistics with everyone else beginning in January.
Along with general infection control practice, such as scrubbing up and washing hands, Ransom said the Prosser surgery center uses a surgical safety checklist to keep patients safe.
Project development for the website began in 2007 when the legislature directed the state department of health to establish the Healthcare Associated Infections program. The agency worked with the Washington State Hospital Association to create this new source.
"Washington's hospitals are enthusiastic participants in providing this new information about hospital infection rates," said Carol Wagner, vice president for patient safety at the Washington State Hospital Association. "We believe that public reporting offers information that helps hospitals improve, assists consumers in making good decisions about hospital care and creates the opportunity for collaboration between hospitals and quality experts."