The Boston Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk reports here:
Massachusetts public health officials have called together patient safety leaders to determine why hospitals reported a high rate of surgical infections among women who received vaginal hysterectomies over the past two years.
Hospitals reported 23 of these infections in 2010 and 25 in 2011 — out of 4,313 procedures total — about twice as many as expected based on national rates. Health officials said further investigation is needed to pinpoint the reasons.
The infection rates for vaginal hysterectomies emerged as health officials released report cards today for 71 hospitals, showing how many patients contract potentially serious infections from surgery and other medical care that is intended to heal them.
The numbers are highly preliminary and it’s not yet clear what they mean. Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, director of the state’s Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, said after yesterday’s Public Health Council meeting, at which the numbers were released:
“One interesting finding is that for the surgical procedure called vaginal hysterectomy where a woman’s uterus is removed, there was a higher than expected rate of infection across the board in the commonwealth. Putting the data forth in this matter allowed us to identify that as an area for concern.
We think that there’s work to be done in terms of understanding how much of the increase in rate is related to actual increases in numbers of infections versus what could actually be a difference in the way the technique is being done. Surgical technique has changed, and we need to make sure that we capture the information correctly based on the changes in the technique. Continue reading