Hospital-acquired Infections in Pennsylvania 2005 - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - November 14, 2006 - The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) today released its first hospital-specific report on hospital-acquired infections. The report - the first of its kind in the nation - identifies the actual number of infections reported by Pennsylvania's 168 individual hospitals, as well as other related quality of care measures.

"It's time to shine the light on this important and costly issue," said Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "This first hospital-specific report demonstrates Pennsylvania's robust commitment to reducing these serious, costly and largely preventable infections. It is yet another example of how Pennsylvania, in collaboration with its hospital community, leads the nation in patient safety, public reporting and health care transparency."

While previous PHC4 reports have focused on the aggregate quality of care and financial consequences of hospital-acquired infections, the new report, Hospital-acquired Infections in Pennsylvania, establishes a baseline against which an individual hospital's future performance can be measured. It includes information on approximately 1.6 million patients treated in the state's 168 general acute care hospitals during 2005. In addition to the number of cases and infection rate per 1,000 cases, information on mortality, average length of stay, and average charges for cases with and without hospital-acquired infections are presented for each hospital.

Since hospitals differ in terms of volume as well as types of patients and procedures, and because completeness of reporting still varies across facilities, PHC4 believes this first report is more appropriate to use as a tool to ask providers informed questions and as a baseline to measure individual hospital improvements over time, than in direct hospital-to-hospital comparisons. Nonetheless, differences exist, and it is important to begin to understand the reasons for these differences.

"The belief of inevitability is being replaced with preventive action all across this country," said Mr. Volavka. "This will save thousands of Americans from the devastating effects of hospital-acquired infections, and the provider community deserves much credit for this change."

While the report includes actual numbers, rather than risk-adjusted numbers, PHC4 took several steps to help readers interpret the data. Patients that were hospitalized for an organ transplant, complications of an organ transplant and/or burn treatment were not included in the report because they may be at a greater risk of contracting a hospital-acquired infection. In addition, PHC4 grouped hospitals according to the complexity of services offered, the number of patients treated, and the percent of surgical procedures performed. Hospitals that use total electronic hospital-acquired infection surveillance to identify infections were also presented separately. Hospitals using electronic surveillance may report a higher number of infections due to more comprehensive, automated identification of infections, and not that they have, in reality, a higher infection rate than other facilities not using such strategies.

Mr. Volavka said, "It's time that hospitals, patients, and those who pay the bill know how many patients develop hospital-acquired infections, the type of infections they develop, and the quality and cost implications. The more information that becomes available, the better the focus will be on preventing these infections."

In Pennsylvania, the hospital-acquired infection reporting requirements were phased in over a two-year period. Beginning January 1, 2004, hospitals were required to start submitting data on the following types of hospital-acquired infections to PHC4: surgical site infections for circulatory, neurological and orthopedic procedures; indwelling catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and central line-associated bloodstream infections. For the third and fourth quarters of 2005, the surgical site infection category was expanded to include all surgical procedures, and for the fourth quarter of 2005, the pneumonia, bloodstream and urinary tract infection categories were expanded to include hospital-acquired infections that were not device related. While hospitals were required to submit data on all hospital-acquired infections to PHC4 beginning in January 2006, the hospital-specific report includes only the information on cases for which hospitals were required to report during calendar year 2005.

Statewide Highlights for 2005

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting cost and quality health care information. Copies of the new report are free and available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787.