Sunday, May 25, 2008

Our low infection rate

It was great to see Community General Hospital's hard work on reducing infections reported in this morning's Post Standard.

The news story was based on data released today in the New York State Hospital Report Card by the Niagara Health Quality Coalition.

The report included a graph (not available in the newspaper's on-line version), comparing infection rates for intravenous lines and catheters among area hospitals, based on 2006 data. The graph showed the infection rates as percentages.

I think it's difficult to appreciate such differences when small numbers are displayed in a percentage format. How significant is the gap between the highest infection rate (0.686%) and the lowest rate (0.090%)? To me, it's not immediately apparent.

So I changed the newspaper's display to show infection rates for every thousand patients who were discharged from local hospitals (see the graph, above). This makes the difference readily understandable. Specifically, the highest infection rate was 6.86 infections per 1,000. The lowest, 0.90 infections per 1,000.

The difference between the highest and the lowest infection rates was 5.96 patients among every one thousand patients treated at the hospitals.

I'm proud of what Community General Hospital has accomplished in keeping our infection rate below the state average (2.21 per 1,000) and below the rates of other local hospitals.

Congratulations to the doctors, nurses, clinical and support staff for their conscientious efforts in controlling infections! And a special hats off to Mitchell Brodey, MD, infectious disease specialist, and to Sue Chamberlain, RN and her infection control staff.


AZReam said...

Congrats indeed!

Now is this success attributable to having the necessary equipment and supplies, implementing procedures to ensure their use, or both?

Tom Quinn said...

It's a combination of factors.

Obviously, the clinical staff has to follow proper procedures to reduce infection risk.

Good communications between physicians, infection control staff, and nursing are important.

Attention to hand hygiene is another factor.

I also credit Sue Chamberlain's "shoe leather surveillance" along with Dr. Brodey's personal commitment and availability. "Shoe leather surveillance" means that Sue personally sees patients at risk and patients exhibiting symptoms. She doesn't rely only on the lab reports, but she is always in touch with nurses and physicians to identify patients and situations that need attention. As a matter of fact, I saw Sue Chamberlain and Dr. Brodey at the hospital this morning, smack-dab in the middle of their holiday weekend. Their commitment and their personal attention to detail are a big help.