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Patient Safety Authority Supports 'International Infection Prevention Week'

The Authority continues to work with federal and state health agencies to increase infection reporting in Pennsylvania and encourages consumers to educate themselves on MRSA and C. diff prevention

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority supports "International Infection Prevention Week," October 19-25, 2008 to raise awareness of the need to protect patients and the public from healthcare-associated infections.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) is sponsoring this year's effort with the theme "Infection Prevention is Everyone's Business."

While the Authority has collected infection data from Pennsylvania hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities since June 2004, nursing homes will begin reporting in 2009 to increase efforts to prevent healthcare-associated infections.

"The Authority continues to work with the Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement Act fifty-two to reduce the number of infections in Pennsylvania's hospitals and nursing homes," Mike Doering, executive director of the Patient Safety Authority said. "The data we currently collect continue to provide us with information to help educate healthcare facilities and the public on how to prevent healthcare associated infections in Pennsylvania."

Since June 2004 the Authority has collected infection data from healthcare facilities through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS). The data are reviewed and analyzed with guidance given through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory -- a quarterly publication. While the Advisory is geared toward healthcare professionals and facility administrators, the Authority develops consumer tips when possible to encourage the public to participate in their healthcare and help reduce the likelihood of a medical error.

Two infections that have garnered consumer tips information are Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA (pronounced Mer-sa) and Clostridium difficile (pronounced klo-STRID-ee-um dif-uh-SEEL) or C. diff. Both infections have become a growing concern in the healthcare industry.

MRSA is a bacterial organism that is resistant to certain antibiotics. MRSA can be acquired in a healthcare facility or occur in the community. More than 1,700 reports related to MRSA, including 14 deaths, were submitted to the Authority from June 2004 through October 2007. While the Authority continues to work with healthcare facilities and other health agencies to reduce MRSA infections, consumers can also protect themselves as much as possible while they are in a healthcare facility or at home by following the consumer tips offered by the Authority on its website.

C. diff is a bacterial organism that occurs most often when patients are treated with antibiotics to guard against infection for an elective surgery. Reports submitted to the Authority show in several cases patients developed C. diff at home after leaving the healthcare facility. This disease was seen as a major contributing factor for causing patient deaths in reported cases. Most patients in the reports (86%) were 70 or older. In several cases, data showed the patients failed to return to the healthcare facility until the disease had progressed significantly. Unfortunately, most patients likely did not know their symptoms were serious and did not associate them with the antibiotics taken.

For consumer tips about C. diff or MRSA go to the Authority's website and click on "Tips for Consumers." For more information about MRSA go to the December 2007 Patient Safety Advisory article "Identification and Effective Communication of Status May Reduce MRSA Infections" and for more information about C. diff go to the June 2005 Patient Safety Advisory article "Clostridium Difficile: A Sometimes Fatal Complication of Antibiotic Use" at the same website and click on "Advisories."

SOURCE Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority
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