HHS Quality Report Shows Increase In Hospital-Acquired Infections

The Associated Press: "The Health and Human Services department's 2009 quality report to Congress found 'very little progress' on eliminating hospital-acquired infections and called for 'urgent attention' to address the shortcomings — first brought to light a decade ago." Specifically, the report found that, for three out of the five major types of serious hospital-related infections, the rate of illness increased. For one type, the rate showed no progress and for the fifth type it declined. "As many as 98,000 people a year die from medical errors, and preventable infections -- along with medication mixups -- are a significant part of the problem. ... Starting in a few years, Medicare payments to hospitals will be reduced for preventable readmissions and for certain infections that can usually be staved off with good nursing care."  The AP reports that these figures were a disappointment because it has been more than 10 years since the Institute of Medicine began an effort to raise awareness and work toward eliminating such medical errors. The report, which was released today, was "accompanied by a second study that found continuing shortfalls in quality of care for minorities and low-income people, particularly the uninsured" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/13).  

NPR's The Two-Way News Blog: "For years, hospitals have made it a top goal to reduce the rate of what are called nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections. They have infection control programs, and officials and committees. ... Still, the results are significantly less than experts have hoped for, according to the latest data from the Health and Human Services Department. According to a report by the Health and Human Services Department's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospital-acquired infections were up in a range of areas last year" (James, 4/13).

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