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Latest health care-acquired infections report shows continued improvement toward patient safety

Oregon does better than the national average on all health care-acquired infections and surgical site infections that are reported to the state, according to a report released today by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems applauds the news, which highlights the hard work Oregon hospitals have done to increase patient safety.

The Oregon Health Authority’s 2015 Hospital-Acquired Infections Report shows that Oregon hospitals continued to reduce infections, including central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), MRSA bloodstream infections, C. Difficile infections, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CLABSI), as well as a number of surgical site infections. 

Oregon hospitals are better than the national baseline for all reported infections. They also met or exceeded targets set by the Department of Health and Human Services in nine of the 13 reported infections. 

“Oregon hospitals are committed to providing safe and consistent quality care for every patient on a daily basis. Part of that commitment is to report and learn from data so that the health care team can focus on opportunities for improvement,” said Diane Waldo, associate vice president of quality and clinical services at the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “Hospitals do this work through a number of programs and initiatives, including the CMS’s Partnership for Patients program, ongoing hand hygiene efforts, patient and family engagement, and others.” 

In an effort to spread a culture of safety, Oregon health care providers participate in initiatives that address accountability and improved practices. 

Fifty-two of Oregon’s 62 hospitals have taken part in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Partnership for Patients initiative, which aimed to reduce preventable harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent. Since beginning their Partnership for Patients work, hospitals working with OAHHS have achieved a 40 percent or greater reduction in CAUTI, CLABSI, surgical site infections, ventilator-associated complications, and early elective deliveries. 

“Addressing the issue of health care-acquired infections in hospitals takes effort on multiple fronts,” Waldo said. “Two key areas are safe and reliable systems to provide care and engaging patients in the process.” Waldo said. Providing quality care is not what the provider does to the patient, but rather with the patient.”

Zintars Beldavs, manager of the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Program, said the data in this year’s report is promising, but more needs to be done to meet national targets for reducing HAIs, particularly as antibiotic resistance becomes an increasing factor in hospital outbreaks.

“This year’s HAI report reflects efforts by Oregon hospitals to prevent infections in health care settings,” he said. “But it also highlights other growing problems, such as multidrug resistance, inappropriate use of antibiotics that allow organisms such as C. Difficile to thrive, and central line-associated bloodstream infections affecting our most vulnerable patients in intensive care units.  We need to keep working together to keep people safe from infections in health care settings.” 

Patients can reduce the risk of infection by taking all the pre-hospitalization infection prevention steps their doctors recommend, such as a pre-surgical antibacterial shower or bath, not shaving before surgery, and stopping smoking. They should also take antibiotics and other medications exactly as directed by their doctors, and ask their visitors to clean their hands before visiting and to stay home if they are sick.
The Oregon Healthcare Acquired Infections Report stems from legislation passed in 2007 to create a mandatory reporting program to raise awareness, promote transparency for health care consumers, and motivate health care providers to prioritize prevention. 

The report, completed by the Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) Program, is available at