UVA Pediatric ICU Rated One of Worst in Country for Infections - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Pediatric ICU Rated One of Worst in Country for Child Infections

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A new report ranks the University of Virginia Children's Hospital as one of the worst in the nation for patient infections. The Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center says some of the hospital's most critically ill kids are at highest risk for potentially deadly infections.

Doctors admit it, and say they are already changing patient care to make it safer. The consumer watchdog's investigation looked at 92 pediatric intensive care units. UVA is ranked as one of the worst in the country, with potentially deadly consequences.

Doctor Tracey Hoke, UVA Children's Hospital's associate chief medical officer, holds the highway for patient infections in her hands.

"These are the lines they receive their medicines in, their fluids in, and sometimes their nutrition in," she said describing the central line catheter. Bad bacteria can also work its way in through those central line catheters to cause a bloodstream infection.

In pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), the national average is nearly two infections for every 1,000 days that kids are hooked up to the line. Consumer Reports uncovered UVA's PICU infection rate was more than triple that in 2010.

"During the time period they chose to look at, our rate was higher than it should have been and we have gone to many efforts to improve it," said Hoke.

She says the hospital's doctors and nurses are already putting new best practices in place to reduce infection rates. A checklist is followed for how a central line is inserted and cleaned. And they're tracking how long the lines are in a single child - 10 days or less - to prevent a bacteria build-up.

"I think what they do is raise the level of practice, so that everyone is paying attention to infections all the time. Everyone is carefully handling lines all the time," explained Hoke.

Paying closer attention is paying off.  The infection rate for 2011 dropped to around four per 1,000 days.

Hoke stated, "In the last quarter, the last three months of 2011, we are happy to report that we had just one infection - none in October, none in December, and 1 in November. So, we really feel like we are making headway."

Hoke says aware parents are a strong defense against dangerous infections. "We encourage parents to be engaged partners in their child's care," she said.

The hospital says it prides itself on public reporting of these infection rates. There are more than 400 PICUs in the country. Consumer reports found just 92 made enough infection data available to rank them.  Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago is the only other hospital to receive the lowest rating.

Click here to view the report.

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