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Courtesy of Consumer Reports Health

2008 data on central line infections.


Report cites 5 Chicago hospitals for high infection rates

by Lisa Owad
Feb 02, 2010


Five Chicago hospitals reported a type of hospital-acquired infection at more than double the national average in 2008, according to a report released Tuesday by Consumer Reports Health.

The report listed the rates of 15 Chicago hospitals, six of which performed better than the national average.

The five poor-performing hospitals are Mt. Sinai Hospital, Norwegian-American Hospital, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Saint Anthony Hospital and Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital.

However,  the 2009 hospital report cards from the Illinois Department of Public Health show different results.

Norwegian-American Hospital in Humboldt Park had 122 percent more central-line infections than the national average in 2008, according to the Consumer Reports data. However, the 2009 Illinois data show that Norwegian’s central-line infection rate is not statistically different from the national rate.

A central line is an intravenous tube that “terminates in a central vessel,” said Elizabeth Stutler, infection control manager at Norwegian-American Hospital. Because the tube enters the bloodstream at a central location, the introduction of any bacteria “has the potential for causing a systemic infection at a higher rate,” Stutler said.

Dr. Robert Chase, vice president of quality and chief medical officer at Norwegian-American Hospital, attributes the difference between the reports to a flaw in the methodology of the Consumer Reports study.

“Because our [patient] numbers are small, our rate is not statistically different,” Dr. Chase said. “You have to take volume into account.”

Norwegian-American Hospital has 12 beds in its intensive care unit, compared with Rush University Medical Hospital with 132 beds, according to the state hospital report cards.
Rush was the Chicago hospital with the lowest infection rates in the Consumer Reports data at 61 percent less than the national average.

The Consumer Reports data show Mt. Sinai Hospital having 122 percent more infections than the national average in 2008, a rate they have worked on lowering.

“In 2008, our senior management launched an aggressive quality and infection control program,” said spokeswoman Tina Spector. “By the second half of 2009, we had an infection rate of zero in surgical intensive care.”

Mt. Sinai’s 2009 data will be published in the Illinois Department of Public Health hospital report cards in March.

Weiss Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital had better numbers on the Illinois hospital report cards than in the Consumer Reports data, but still had infection rates above the national average.

The Consumer Reports study consolidated infection data for two units at Saint Anthony, while the Illinois report card separated them, so the data cannot be compared.

Representatives from Weiss, Mercy and Saint Anthony did not immediately return calls for comment.