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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Low infection rates? Market it!

You knew it would come to this, as public reporting of healthcare associated infections becomes more common: Marketing!

That’s right, hospitals are touting their low infection rates to potential customers while their less fortunate counterparts “peek and shriek” at the infection rate reports. Add the invisible hand of capitalism to the various forces now working to lower infection rates. One could argue that this also applies more pressure to “game” the reporting systems when possible, particularly if competitors are pulling away from fiscally troubled rivals. That said, welcome to the new age of transparency. Any competitors of New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (NYHSS), read their press release and weep.

“[NYHSS] is the only hospital in New York State with an infection rate that is significantly lower than the state average for hip replacement or revision surgeries, according to the 2009 report on hospital infection rates released today by the State Department of Health. [Our] surgeons performed 15% of the nearly 26,000 hip replacement or revision procedures in New York State in 2009. Special Surgery was the only hospital of the 169 hospitals included in the report that had a statistically lower surgical site infection rate than the state average of 1.3 percent for that particular procedure. Hospitals that performed the highest number of hip replacement procedures had the lowest infection rates, according to the report."

“When patients select a hospital, a low infection rate should be one of the items at the top of their list,” said Louis A. Shapiro, president and CEO. “At Hospital for Special Surgery, we believe that infection prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Success can only be achieved with contributions from our entire staff, from surgeons and nurses to technicians and housekeepers.”