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Local hospitals get good marks on stemming infections

STORY BY MEG LAUGHLIN (Week of November 6, 2014)

Two local hospitals – Indian River Medical Center and Sebastian River Medical Center – are doing a bit better than the national average at stemming infections that develop during a hospital stay, according to just-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Their performance – equal to the national benchmark in four categories and better than the national benchmark in one category – grouped the two local hospitals with 20 other Florida medical centers that received the same rating.

Two neighboring hospitals – Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne and Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute in Ft. Pierce – were among 23 Florida hospitals that achieved higher ratings. Another 125 Florida hospitals received lower ratings.

Holmes and Lawnwood will get much bigger Medicare bonuses for exceeding the benchmark for preventing three infections. One is called “CLABSI” (Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infection), which can occur with the insertion of tubes in the chest, groin or neck. Another is CAUTI (Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection).

Both Indian River and Sebastian, along with Lawnwood, will get bonuses for exceeding the national benchmark in the prevention of a digestive tract infection that causes diarrhea and, sometimes, colitis called clostridium difficile or C.diff.

Holmes also did better than national benchmarks in preventing infection related to colon surgery.

All four area hospitals reached the national benchmark in preventing MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, but none exceeded the benchmark to get a bonus.

The CDC information, which was just published online in Kaiser Health News, showed that 695 hospitals across the country did worse than the national average in at least one category. Surprisingly, the University of Michigan Hospital, Tulane University Hospital and New York Presbyterian Hospital were in the name-and-shame group.

By contrast, hospitals that did exceedingly well at preventing infections included Duke University Hospital, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and Denver Health Medical Center.

In Florida, where 168 hospitals were rated, two hospitals were tied for doing the worst with four subpar ratings: North Shore Hospital in Miami and  UF Health in Jacksonville.

Successful infection prevention is achieved through the most basic of actions on the part of medical staff like “the diligent washing of hands,” said the CDC report.

Every year, according to the CDC, 75,000 die of infections that they get while hospitalized – more than the number of people who die from gunshots and car accidents, combined.