Hospital infections are down in New Hampshire, providing hope that diseases and disorders affecting patients could be lessened elsewhere.

Hospitals are required to report infections in patients recovering from colon, heart and knee surgeries, in addition to people who have been treated with catheters near main blood vessels.

There are 33 hospitals in the Granite State, which reported a total of 183 infections. This number was 30 percent lower than had been predicted, based on national infection rates. In 2012, that number was 198, and was just 110 in 2011. The state reports the earlier increase was due to increased reporting in healthcare-associated infections (HAI).

"Three hospitals had fewer infections overall than expected - Portsmouth Regional, Lakes Regional General, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Nineteen had infection rates that were in line with national data. Others were not included in the comparisons because they were expected to have less than one infection," WMUR, New Hampshire's only statewide television station, reported.

Urinary tract infections and complications following hysterectomies were first tracked in 2012 reporting. These rates were up nationally, suggesting that more work needs to be done to lower infection rates among those patients.

Infection prevention procedures, including hospital management encouraging staff members to receive inoculations against influenza. The reported noted hospitals in the Granite State achieved a compliance rate of 98.4 percent, a marked increase over the previous year. A total of 92.9 percent of healthcare workers in New Hampshire hospitals accepted immunization against influenza. That percentage exceeds the goal set by Healthy People 2020 of 90 percent, and has been steadily rising since 2008.

"We know we have great hospitals and medical services in New Hampshire with many dedicated medical personnel. But there is nothing like hard data to find out how we are doing as a State and to make improvements to better protect the health of New Hampshire's citizens," José Montero, director of public health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, said.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a common infection in hospitals. The bacteria which causes the disease is resistant to most antibiotics, making treatment difficult. In addition to the initial infection, presence of the bacteria in a patient's body can cause pneumonia, encourage blood disorders, and make complications from surgery more difficult, as well as lengthening recovery times from surgical procedures.

The DHHS in the state has released the entire report online, which may be viewed [pdf] on their website. 

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