Local hospitals have used a pilot program that tracks and analyzes medical information to help reduce the number of infections contracted in hospitals.
UTICA — Local hospitals have used a pilot program that tracks and analyzes medical information to help reduce the number of infections contracted in hospitals.
Rome Memorial Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center are among the seven Upstate New York hospitals using the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield program.
“We’ve seen an actual reduction in infection rates,” said Arthur Vercillo, vice president and chief medical officer at Excellus. “Identifying that a problem exists and taking concrete means to address it works.”
In recent years, medical professionals have seen a rise in the number of patients who contract infections while in the hospital, Vercillo said. That’s because people with severe illnesses who are vulnerable to infections are surviving longer, he said.
Also, some viruses, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), have become resistant to some antibiotics, he said.
“Tracking the MRSA bacteria can be a full-time job,” said Linda Kokoszki, the infection control coordinator at St. Elizabeth. “The Excellus pilot has made it manageable.”
The program compiles computer data and alerts medical staff when a trend has emerged in infections, officials said. If medical professionals learn infections are occurring frequently in a certain unit of the hospital, efforts to identify the problem and correct it begin immediately, Vercillo said.
In 2004, there were nearly 3,000 cases of hospital-acquired infections, a study showed. Of that number, about 145 died.
Throughout Upstate New York, the number of cases has dropped by about 12 percent, officials said.
“We’ve been part of the Excellus pilot for almost two years, and I honestly don’t know what we’d do without it,” said LeAnna Grace, the director of infection prevention and control at Rome Memorial Hospital. “We now have up-to-the-minute information that otherwise would take hours if not days to gather.”