SHEBOYGAN (AP) - Patients at Wisconsin hospitals had a lesser chance last year of getting two types of major infections than patients nationwide, according to a state report. But their chance of getting a third type of infection was greater.
The state Division of Public Health's 2012 report looked at four types of serious infections that happen at hospitals. It said Wisconsin hospitals reduced occurrences of bloodstream infections associated with intravenous lines and urinary tract infections among those who had catheters.
But occurrences of surgical site infections following abdominal hysterectomy procedures were above national average, the report said. And Wisconsin hospitals were only on par with those nationwide when it came to surgical infections following colon surgeries and hip and knee replacement procedures.
Wisconsin is working to reduce those infections, Gwen Borlaug, the public health division's infection control epidemiologist, told The Associated Press.
The report used compiled data from hospitals who voluntarily reported to the division, Borlaug said.
The occurrence of bloodstream infections associated with central venous catheters fell by 21 percent from 2011 to 2012 at Wisconsin hospitals that reported the data, and was 56 percent lower than the national baseline occurrence from 2006 to 2008, according to the report.
The occurrence of urinary tract infections associated with catheters fell by 17 percent from 2011 to 2012 and was 13 percent lower than the national baseline number in 2009. But during 2011, the occurrence of surgical site infections following abdominal hysterectomy procedure was 20 percent higher than the national number.
Reducing infections is important because it means less time in hospital and less money spent, Brenda Ehlert, Affinity Health System's infections prevention coordinator, told Post-Crescent Media.
"If a patient develops an infection, it will prolong their stay in the hospital," Ehlert said. "Having the number down is a good thing."
Ehlert said emphasis on hand-washing has helped reduce infection occurrences, along with close monitoring of patients' need for medications and fluids.
"The biggest thing that's been happening is hand-washing," she said. "A (medical) worker washing their hands before and after they touch a patient."
Ehlert said they are also trying to shorten a patient's time in hospital, noting that every day a person stays in a hospital "is another day they're at risk for infection."
Miki Gould, infection prevention coordinator for ThedaCare, which operates medical centers in Appleton and Neenah, told Post-Crescent Media that along with sanitizing measures, watching out for patients is also the key to success.
"A chance of infection is greater if say a patient has to get up out of bed to use the restroom," she said. "From an infection control point, getting people better faster aids in the overall healing process."
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