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Hospitals make headway on patient infections

Boston Globe, November 23, 2009

Massachusetts' largest hospitals say they have significantly cut the number of patients who acquire painful, costly, and sometimes deadly infections in their operating suites and intensive care units, suggesting that pressure from government regulators and patient groups, as well as a shift in doctors' attitudes, is starting to make medical care safer. Several academic medical centers in Boston said the number of ICU patients contracting bloodstream infections had dropped by at least half in the past several years because of new procedures to keep intravenous lines and other tubes cleaner. Hospitals also said they have reduced the number of patients on respirators who develop pneumonia. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said so few patients now get this type of infection that the hospital was able to cancel plans to expand its ICU.