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Infection-Control Programs Suffering, Hospitals Report

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Infections acquired at hospitals lead to almost 10,000 deaths each year, costing the United States health care system more than $20 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Despite justification for beefing up U.S. hospitals' infection-control efforts, a new survey found that almost 41 percent of nearly 2,000 participants said their hospital infection-control budgets were being cut, the newspaper reported. Funding cuts were affecting technology, staff, education, products and equipment, the survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) revealed.

Moreover, 40 percent of respondents said they were affected by layoffs or a reduction in hours, and one-third said their departments had job freezes, the Journal reported.

The survey also found that only about 20 percent of respondents said their institutions had electronic reporting systems -- referred to as "data mining" -- that helped identify infection clusters in real time, the newspaper said.

One infection-control director from Tacoma, Wash., reported that a data-mining effort identified a pattern of urinary tract infections that ended up preventing an estimated 187 additional infections over 16 months and saving her institution about $1.5 million, the Journal said.

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