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N.H. hospital-acquired infections hold steady

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire’s hospital-acquired infection rate has been holding steady in ­recent years, and public health officials say the numbers are encouraging.

The state’s 31 hospitals have been required since 2009 to provide data on patients who develop infec­tions after heart, colon, and knee surgeries or through central lines, catheters inserted in blood vessels near the heart or another major vessel. The latest report, released Tuesday, covers 2011 and shows a total of 110 infections. The total was similar in 2010, but the new figure is 40 percent lower than expected based on national data.

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Four hospitals had fewer infections than expected: Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital in Manchester, and Concord Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. Sixteen had infection rates that were in line with national data, while others were not included in the comparisons because they were expected to have less than one infection.

The report also looks at how well hospitals adhere to infection prevention practices, including following certain procedures for inserting central lines and encouraging staff to get vaccinated against influenza. Compared to 2010, hospitals maintained high compliance rates or improved their efforts overall.

The next report, covering 2012, will provide more data, including information on urinary tract infec­tions associated with catheters in pediatric and adult intensive care units, as well as surgical site infections following hysterectomy procedures.

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