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New Research Unveils High Support for Programs to Reduce Infections in Hospitals


PQC data shows the informed patient’s demand for better consistent protocols, better care, and measures that identify and treat sepsis and prevent hospital acquired infections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite significant advances made during the last several years, most Americans view the care delivered in hospitals as merely adequate, with rising concern for hospital acquired infections, sepsis and other preventable conditions, according to new research released today by the Partnership for Quality Care. Citing major fears over the severity and death rates from sepsis and hospital acquired infections and the lack of common protocols to address these conditions, 84 percent of Americans surveyed believe reducing sepsis and hospital acquired infections should be a top priority for hospital staff and resources.

Sepsis, a severe illness where the body is overwhelmed by infections, is actually the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals today — responsible for more in-patient deaths per year in American hospitals than cancer, heart disease and stroke combined. In addition, nearly 2 million people each year develop an infection during their hospital stays that they didn’t have at the time of their admission. The PQC research underscores the immediate need for enhanced quality measures in hospitals that will decrease the rate of hospital acquired infections and sepsis, and help improve survival for those who do develop sepsis.

“Quality care requires constant unrelenting focus and patient-focused standardization of practice,” said George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente and chair of the Partnership for Quality Care. “At Kaiser Permanente, we have seen remarkable decreases in the death rate of sepsis in hospitals after clear and concise protocols were put into effect. Through the sharing of best practices and collective dedication to providing top-notch, quality care in hospitals, we can achieve better outcomes for patients. If every hospital in the country can cut the sepsis death rate in half, we would save more than 107,000 lives every year.”

After hearing a description of sepsis, 83 percent of the PQC survey respondents said they believed it to be a “very serious problem.” With the majority of sepsis deaths and hospital acquired infections cases considered largely preventable with appropriate measures to screen, diagnose and treat, Americans want hospitals to do more. The survey also found that more than 80 percent of respondents believe hospitals and providers can have a significant impact on reducing death from sepsis and hospital acquired infections.

“Access to quality health care is an issue that Americans care deeply about and the members of the PQC take their call to action very seriously. We know that by sharing what’s working now, we can improve the care hospitals and frontline health care workers deliver and we can lower overall health care costs,” said Dennis Rivera of the Service Employees International Union and secretary treasurer of the Partnership for Quality Care.

At the PQC news conference in Washington, D.C., today, the organization also highlighted examples of successful protocols that decrease the occurrence of sepsis and hospital acquired infections. Jed Weissberg, MD, senior vice president of Quality and Care Delivery Excellence at Kaiser Permanente, discussed how the organization created specialized sepsis teams, gave screening tests for sepsis top priority in hospital labs, and cut the death rate from sepsis in half. Justine Carr, MD, chief medical officer of the Steward Health Care System, in Boston, described her organization’s hospital acquired infections program, which has reduced the prevalence of hospital acquired infections by more than 50 percent. Prior to this survey, when members of the public were asked about these types of programs, respondents indicated a high degree of confidence that the initiatives could be replicated at their local hospitals.

PQC, a national coalition whose members work to advance reliable and affordable access to health care for all Americans, conducted the national survey in January 2011, to measure attitudes on hospital care. The Benenson Strategy Group measured the opinions of 1,000 people chosen at random via a telephone survey (both landlines and cell phones were called). The margin of error for the entire data set is ± 3.10 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About PQC
Launched in May 2007, the Partnership for Quality Care is a unique nationwide organization, a labor-management partnership of health care providers and health care workers. It includes more than 1 million workers, as well as public, private, religious, teaching and nonprofit hospitals, and integrated health systems caring for more than 50 million patients annually. For more information, visit

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to:


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