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State Hospital Infection Rate Drops, Many Valley Hospitals Above Average

Aug 10, 2012

California hospitals experienced a 10 percent drop in the number of serious infections over the past year, but a number of San Joaquin Valley hospitals are still above the state average, when compared with similar hospitals elsewhere in the state.

Fresno's Community Regional Medical Center was among several major teaching hospitals in the state that posted a higher than average number of central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI). Other teaching hospitals that ranked high on the list include the UC Davis Medical Center and Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Clovis Community Medical Center also ranked above the state average for central line infections compared with other critical care surgical and general ward surgical hospitals in the state. In Tulare County, Kaweah Delta Medical Center ranked above average in critical care surgical and adult step-down general ward infection rates.

In Kern County, Delano Regional Medical Center also posted above average infection numbers compared with similar critical care surgical facilities, and Kern Medical Center ranked higher in general ward surgical infections. San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield ranked above average with infections for both critical care and general ward surgical patients. 

Because of the great variety in types of care and patient conditions, the study rates hospitals against facilities where patients with similar medical conditions receive similar levels of care. 

The numbers come from a new report by the California Department of Public Health released this week. The data is from January 1 - December 31, 2011. The department has prepared an online map tracking occurrences of four different types of healthcare associated infections here.

The California Department of Public Health says the data can help provide California residents with important information about hospital surgical and detection practices.

CLABSI rates can be affected by clinical and infection control practices related to central line insertion and maintenance practices, patient-based risk factors, and the surveillance methods used by reporting hospitals.  To ensure appropriate interpretation, readers are encouraged to consider the overall context of these rates. A low CLABSI rate may reflect greater diligence with infection prevention or may reflect less effective surveillance methods that detect fewer infections, including failure to appropriately apply standardized surveillance definitions and protocols. Similarly, a high rate may reflect lapses in infection prevention practices or more aggressive infection surveillance including more consistent application of standardized surveillance definitions and protocols.

In 2009, a study by the California Department of Public Health reported that hospital associated infections killed 13,500 Californians year. Since that time, the state has made good progress. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that central line infections in the state dropped by 36 percent when compared with 2006-2008. In 2011, the state reported 3163 cases of CLABSIs, versus 3519 in 2010.

See central line infection data for all California hospitals and patient care centers for the year 2011 here.