Sacramento hospitals struggle to contain spread of infections, report says

By Brooke Purves

Sacramento-area hospitals were ranked by Consumer Reports as some of the best—and worst—at preventing the spread of deadly hospital-acquired infections in a report released early Wednesday.

The report analyzed how effective more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals were at containing deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C-diff), along with other hospital-acquired infections—many suspected to be aggravated by overenthusiastic antibiotic use and other best-practices deviations.

Mercy San Juan in Sacramento County received a rating of up to 100 percent worse than a national baseline—near failing—for avoiding the spread of C-diff to patients in the facility. The bug, causing inflammation of the colon and claiming 27,000 lives annually, is found in fecal matter, but can be harbored on nearly any surface. Current treatment includes fecal transplant.

UC Davis Medical Center didn’t fare much better, sliding in with a similarly low rating for containing MRSA, which kills another 8,000 per year.

Consumer Reports’s Doris Peters said infections can be harder to control in larger facilities: more beds means more exposure and possible policy implementation problems.

In addition to the hospital rankings, Consumer Reports published patient guidelines for keeping safe in hospitals, which included advice on cleaning one’s own hospital room and encouraging frequent hand-washing and sensible antibiotic use.

Peters said patients and hospitals can work as a team to reduce bacterial transmissions. Nevertheless, “I’m kind of getting tired of the … ‘let the patient deal with it kind of thing,’” he said. “The burden should be on the hospital.”

Not to be outdone, the smaller Fremont-Rideout Health Group in Marysville received one of the two lowest ratings in the country in all five surveyed infection categories.

But not all is lost for sick Sacramentans. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, scored well in preventing MRSA spreads, and Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center did a pretty good job at avoiding central line infections, despite being labeled one of the worst hospitals in the area of avoiding hospital-acquired infections overall.

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