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Infections top safety issues for Houston-area hospitals

The Houston Chronicle, April 25, 2011

The most common hospital-contracted malady among older patients in Houston is systemic vascular infections, a problem often caused by unsanitary or improper procedures during their hospital stay, a new study of Medicare claims shows. Among 46 hospitals within a 50-mile radius of the city of Houston, half reported vascular infections in Medicare patients through catheters, the tubing used for various procedures. A total of 472 "hospital-acquired conditions" were reported from the 234,200 Medicare discharges from October 2008 through June 2010. That's two incidents per 1,000 Medicare discharges in Houston. Allowing the public to see information about mishaps and errors that occur during a patient's hospital stay has been a contentious issue for hospital personnel, who believe the public could misread it. To date, there's no universal ranking system for the public to determine the safety of the nation's hospitals.