Hospital Malpractice: Infections

Hospital infections are becoming more of an issue both within hospitals and in the media in recent years. The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta makes clear the reason: infections at hospitals cause 90,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Infections result in an estimated 205,000 additional hospital days for infected patients and $2 billion in hospital charges.

Most infections are not the result of hospital malpractice. But consider these facts. In Central New York, University Hospital had, according to one study, an infection rate of 0.669 percent. Other New York Hospitals had lower rates: St. Joseph’s and Crouse had infection rates of 0.405 percent and 0.364 percent, respectively. But Community General’s infection rate was 0.017 percent and Oswego’s rate was absolutely zero.

Now, hospital quality data is not standardized and there are different reports that measure hospitals in different ways. But can this degree of variance in hospital infection rates be the product of mere probability or the way the hospitals report the data? I don’t think so.

Many states, most notably Pennsylvania, are taking great steps to collect and report data on hospital-acquired infections. These are just steps in the right direction. Hospital patients have a right to know whether a hospital in which they might receive care and treatment is diligent in the prevention of hospital-acquired infections.