AHRQ Report: Hospitals Have Made Little Gains in Preventing Infections
U.S. hospitals have made little progress in eliminating health care-associated infections, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualityâs annual National Healthcare Quality Report, Modern Healthcare reports.
The report concludes that infection prevention and patient safety efforts deserve attention (McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 4/13).
The congressionally mandated analysis tracked trends in the U.S. health care system's performance in 2007 on more than 200 measures across four areas of quality: effectiveness, safety, timeliness and patient focus of care.
The study found that overall health care quality improved by 2.3%.
However, researchers also found that rates for certain infections had worsened across the previous year:
- Postoperative sepsis, or bloodstream infections, increased by 8%;
- Postoperative catheter-associated urinary tract infections rose by 3.6%; and
- Selected infections due to medical care increased by 1.6%.
However, the report found that rates of postoperative pneumonia improved by 12% and found no change in the number of bloodstream infections associated with central venous catheter placements (Preidt, Health Day, 4/13).
Carolyn Clancy, AHRQâs director, said the findings show that the health care system is not achieving the "more substantial strides" needed to address quality shortfalls.
However, Clancy highlighted proven strategies that have shown success in reducing infection rates, including using basic standards for hand hygiene, disinfecting patients, handling equipment and proper use of antibiotics (Sack, New York Times, 3/13).
Separate AHRQ Report Highlights Health Care Quality, Access Disparities
Meanwhile, a separate AHRQ report examining national health care access gaps found major disparities between minorities and whites, as well as between uninsured and insured populations (New York Times, 4/13).
Black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indian patients were less likely than white patients to receive preventive antibiotics prior to surgery in a "timely manner." Further, uninsured patients were less likely to receive routine health screenings and vaccinations compared with insured patients.
Overall, the report concluded that lack of insurance is the "single strongest predictor of poor quality care," exceeding race, ethnicity, income or education (AHRQ release, 4/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.