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Kentucky Hospitals Fall Short on Stopping In-House Infections, Rankings Show

Phalinn Ooi/Creative Commons

Few Kentucky hospitals receive high rankings for avoiding infections of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and C. difficile, shows an analysis released Wednesday by Consumer Reports.

The report examines hospitals' capabilities to keep patients from contracting  infections in hospitals.

Doris Peter, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said 650,000 people each year develop health care-associated infections, and 75,000 people die from these infections.

"Not enough is being done to prevent infections," she said. "Not following things that we know will reduce them."

"One example is controlling the use of antibiotics and that means adopting an antibiotics stewardship program that can reduce the overuse of antibiotics and control, for example, C. difficile infections."

The report also considered central-line associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and surgical-site infections.

Baptist Health was the only large health care facility in the Louisville area to rank between the national baseline and 50 percent better than the national baseline for avoiding infections overall. The hospital is at least 50 percent better than the baseline for MSRA infections and up to and including 100 percent worse than the national baseline for avoiding C. difficile infections.

University Hospital ranked as more than 100 percent worse than the national baseline for avoiding MRSA infections.

Jewish Hospital and Norton Hospital were both up to and including 100 percent worse than the national baseline.

Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany; and Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown also ranked below national measures.

In 2013, Kentucky launched 9,689 investigations of what the state calls health care-associated infections, or HAI. According to a government database, those investigations included:

  • 1,195 cases of influenza isolates
  • 683 cases of campylobacteriosis
  • 562 cases of salmonellaosis
  • 499 cases of pertussis

This past spring, new regulations for reporting health care associated infections was approved.

Peter says the only way patients can try to protect themselves from contracting an HAI, is to speak up for themselves.

"Question antibiotic use, so if you're prescribed an antibiotic to ask why this is necessary, why are you getting it, what about hospital acquire infections that can be caused by over prescribing of antibiotics," she said.

To see the full list of Kentucky hospitals, click here.