One out of every 25 patients contracts an infection during a hospital stay, according to a new national study released on Wednesday. This number translates to about 722,000 infections annually.
What's more, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collected data from more than 183 hospitals, estimates that 1 out of every 9 patients who contracts an infection will die.
However, the data on the infections themselves differs from state to state and hospital to hospital — even for neighboring hospitals such as Mercy Medical Centers and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids.
"You go to the hospital to get better," said Dr. Michael Bell, the deputy director of CDC’s health care quality promotion division, during a conference call with reporters. "In many cases we do, but that's not always the case."
According to the study, the most common types of infections were pneumonia and surgical site infections — each accounting for about 22 percent of all health-care associated infections. Other common infections were gastrointestinal infections (17 percent), urinary tract infections (13 percent) and bloodstream infections (10 percent).
That data helps to shine a light at problem areas and allows the CDC to know where to distribute resources, Bell said.
Over the years, C. difficile infections, which cause severe diarrhea, have become more severe as bacteria has learned to be resistant to antibiotics and account for about 12 percent of infections.
Some improvements have been made, however. There has been a 44 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections and a 20 percent decrease in infections related to surgical procedures between 2008 and 2012.
How Iowa compares
But data found that no one state performed better, in four specific categories, in 2012 than the national standardized infection ratio (SIR) — a statistic used to measure hospital-associated infections for that year. States scored well in some of the categories, but not in all of them.
Those four specific infection types were:
"It's really a mixed picture," Bell said. "While some states are having problems with certain infections, they're doing really well with others."
In Iowa, the number of bloodstream infections was 54 percent lower than the SIR. However, the number of abdominal hysterectomy surgical site infections in the state was 20 percent higher than the national baseline.
Even neighboring hospitals had mixed results.
Lori Townsend, infection prevention program manager at St. Luke's, said the hospital does its best to be proactive when it comes to preventing health care-associated infections.It looks at everything from state and national initiatives to CDC recommendations, she said.