SIKESTON -- When it comes to hospital infection rates, Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston ranks comparable among hospitals at the local, state and national levels.
Missouri officials released a report last month that they say will provide an overview of how state hospitals fare in preventing infections.
The report, which will be updated quarterly, takes a cue from a state law requiring hospitals to disclose information about infections that occur at their sites. The information can be found at www.dhss.mo.gov/HAI.
"We're happy the information is out there, and we think it's good that patients in the state of Missouri are becoming more informed," said registered nurse Julie Fraser-Young, MDMC vice president of quality management.
From July 1, 2005, through March 31, 2006, -- the most current data available -- MDMC reported only one central line-associated bloodstream infection in 315 central line-days in its medical/surgical intensive care unit. MDMC is exempt from the other ICU categories on the Web site -- coronary, pediatric and neonatal -- because it has only one ICU, which is the surgical/
medical area, Joy Cauthorn, safety/infection control nurse, said.
"The ICU unit is where the sickest and those more susceptible to infections go because they are already more compromised. Many may have been there for long periods of time, and their immune systems are not up to warding off infections," Cauthorn explained.
Cauthorn noted MDMC has only nine medical/surgical ICU beds. The average daily census is five for this nine-month reporting period.
Fraser-Young said she thinks the Web site is a great tool because it helps hospital staff perform better knowing the public is informed, and it helps consumers know what the hospitals have to offer.
''This is just one indicator that the public can use to help them look at the quality of health care they are being provided,'' said Eddie Hedrick, senior epidemiologist with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, who helped compile the report. ''This is giving them a little bit more information to help them make (health care) decisions. At the same time, it's encouraging hospitals to get better.''
Missouri is the third state to release a report with hospital-specific infection rates. The report allows people to compare their hospitals to others in the state and region.
State Rep. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, who sponsored the infection information law, said consumers should be careful not to draw conclusions about a hospital based only on what they find in the report. He said the information is not complete and could be misleading.
Hedrick said the initial information doesn't include surgical site findings, but those will come later this month.
The state law, passed in 2004, requires hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to report central line-associated bloodstream infections, specific surgical site infections and ventilator-associated pneumonias.
Fraser-Young said there are several processes the MDMC staff utilizes to identify infections in the hospital.
"Joy (Cauthorn), on a daily basis, reviews the infection control process and records to ensure we don't have any infections," Fraser-Young said. In addition, the ICU nurses submit information through written reports and a computerized program. Lab cultures and results are also reviewed, and physicians can submit infection reports, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 20 patients, or about 2 million each year, develop infections while being treated in the hospital. Of those, about 90,000 die.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.