Scores of California hospitals, under pressure to reduce infections that kill an estimated 12,000 patients every year, say they have managed to cut costs and save lives through an initiative that has nurses and doctors redoubling efforts to prevent deadly germs from taking root. The three-year campaign is bringing together 160 hospitals across the state with the aim of reducing an estimated 200,000 hospital-related infections in California that add $600 million to healthcare costs every year. Since its launch 19 months ago, the initiative is credited with cutting ventilator-associated pneumonia 41%. Urinary tract infections related to catheters fell 24% last year, and cases of blood poisoning dropped 11%. The lower rates have saved an estimated $11 million in healthcare costs. "We're definitely making progress," said Philip Robinson, MD, who oversees infection prevention at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach. "Each one of these infections is a burden to patients, hospitals and the whole healthcare system."