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Excellus report finds Upstate hospitals making strides in infection control

By Eric Reinhardt


DeWITT — Upstate New York hospitals have been more successful than state facilities in lowering rates of two commonly reported hospital-acquired infections.

That’s according to a detailed analysis of four years of patient-infection data that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield issued on Wednesday. Rochester–based Excellus BCBS is Central New York’s largest health insurer.

The Excellus analysis of state reports found that each year between 2008 and 2011, Upstate hospitals had lower rates of these two, common types of hospital-acquired infections than New York state hospitals.

Surgical-site infection rates in upstate New York hospitals decreased by almost 8 percent between 2008 and 2011, when surgical site infection rates among New York state hospitals decreased 3 percent. However, the rates increased by almost 11 percent in Central New York (even though they were among the lowest of all upstate New York regions during the analyzed time span) and 4 percent in the Southern Tier, according to the Excellus findings.

The analysis also found that surgical-site infection rates dropped 33 percent in the Finger Lakes region and 13 percent in Utica–Rome and the North Country.

In addition, central line-associated bloodstream-infection rates in upstate New York decreased 46 percent in the same time period, while those same infection rates decreased 42 percent in New York state hospitals.

The largest decline in central line-associated bloodstream infections among Upstate New York hospitals was 79 percent in Utica–Rome and the North Country, followed by 65 percent in the Finger Lakes, about 50 percent in Central New York, and 8 percent in the Southern Tier.

“Differences in upstate New York hospital infection control practices may partially explain regional variations uncovered in the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield report,” Dr. Arthur Vercillo, regional president for Excellus, said in a news release. “While clinical-surveillance systems that use sophisticated techniques to compile and analyze hospital data help hospitals spot infection patterns and target areas for improvement, not all hospitals have them.”

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