Critically ill ICU patients at a hospital in Harlem were four times more likely to get a deadly blood infection than the average ICU patient nationwide, a new study shows.
The Consumer Reports Hospital Ratings study, released Tuesday, says North General Hospital’s so-called central line infection rate was 394% worse than the national average – and the worst in the city.
The community hospital reported 12 infections in 2008 for 1,462 “central line days” – the total number of days that ICU patients had the large IV catheters inserted in their neck or arm for fluids and medicine.
The city’s best hospital was Richmond University Hospital on Staten Island, with a rate that was 82% better than average for its ICUs. It reported two infections for 4,862 central line days.
“Like all hospitals, North General takes central line bacterial infections very seriously,” said Andy Brimmer, a spokesman for the hospital. “Thanks to our aggressive internal efforts, we have reduced the incidence of these infections. North General only had three central line bacterial infections in 2009, which compares favorably with hospitals nationwide.”
The infections kill 30,000 people a year.
Medical experts say hospitals should have zero central line infections because they’re preventable with simple, but disciplined, hygiene and sterile handling.
That means a commitment from hospital CEOs, nurses and doctors down to dietary aides and housekeepers to make it a priority, said Dr. Brian Koll, who is credited with running a model infection control program at Beth Israel Medical Center.
Other New York facilities that fared better than the national average: Coney Island Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn .
The four worst after North General were North Central Bronx Hospital, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, Queens Hospital Center and Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan .
Consumer Reports looked at central line infection data from 926 hospitals in the U.S., including 111 in New York State. New York is among 27 states that require its hospitals to report infection rates to the state health department.
Told of North General’s 2008 ICU results, patient Candice Carter of Harlem was alarmed. “That’s frightening,” said Carter, 57, standing outside the hospital at E. 122nd St. and Madison Ave. “It does surprise me. I’m new to this hospital, but I’ve been very impressed with the care.”With Bill Egbert