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Hospital refuses to release infection numbers

December 28, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - In a year when the Maryland General Assembly pushed for increased reporting of hospital-acquired infections, Washington County Hospital has refused to publicly release its own data.

Legislation now requires that the Maryland Health Care Commission develop a system for infection statistics for all hospitals, said Pam Barclay, director of the center for hospital services for the commission. She said a technical advisory committee has formed to work on that task.

"Maryland hospitals and the Maryland state government have been working together to decide what types of health-care associated infections will be reported to the state," hospital spokeswoman Maureen Theriault said.

"To date, hospitals and the state have not agreed on how to collect the data and how to define the infections. Therefore, the hospital will not release infections rates until there is an agreement on which ones are to be collected, how the cases will be defined and how they will be reported," she said.

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Theriault said the hospital would not disclose its hospital-acquired infections data because it wanted to provide accurate information.

Hospital officials did give data regarding the number of patients on ventilators who contracted pneumonia while there.

Before 2005, there were seven cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia for every 1,000 days a patient was on a ventilator at the hospital. After a collaborative effort in January 2005, that number decreased to about three cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia for every 1,000 days a patient was on a ventilator, officials said.

Since August of this year, there have been no cases of ventilator-associated pneumonia at Washington County Hospital.

Barclay said that giving antibiotics before surgery and stopping antibiotics within a certain time period after surgery helps prevent infections from surgeries.

According to data from the Maryland Health Care Commission, in 80 percent of cases at Washington County Hospital, antibiotics were given before hip, knee and colon surgeries in 2005. The state average is 80 percent.

According to commission data, antibiotics are stopped after hip, knee and colon surgeries 81 percent of the time at Washington County Hospital. The state average is 60 percent.

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