Long Beach Hospital Winning the Fight Against Deadly Super Bugs

A California hospital excels in its fight against deadly hospital-acquired infections with local and national implications.


Long Beach, CA -- (SBWire) -- 01/22/2013 --Super Bugs such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) are dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria that have been associated with life threatening hospital-acquired infections. They are costly and difficult to treat.

In its ongoing fight against these potentially deadly infections, Pacific Hospital of Long Beach has recently received an award from the Southern California Patient Safety First (SCPSF) for reducing sepsis mortality and hospital associated infection rates from 2010-2012. The Southern California Patient Safety First Collaborative provides a forum for peer-to-peer learning, networking, and sharing of best practices to improve patient safety and clinical outcomes. It is a partnership between the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC), SCPSF, and Anthem Blue Cross. This statewide initiative provides opportunities for hospitals to improve medical care, reduce costs, and establish a best practice model for hospitals across the state (1).

While Pacific Hospital has gained national attention for its success in reducing these deadly hospital-acquired infections, this latest recognition highlights the significant impact on the safety and quality of care for its local Southern California community. Thanks to simple, yet innovative control measures, Pacific Hospital of Long Beach has achieved outstanding results. Pacific Hospital’s MRSA rate for 2012 was 0.04 per 1000 discharges in comparison to the national CDC rate of 4.8 per 1000 discharges (2).

According to Pacific Hospital’s Infection Control Director, Dr. Alfonso Toress-Cook, you are 95% less likely to acquire potentially deadly MRSA and VRE “super bugs” at Pacific Hospital. In the United States, MRSA was associated with 8% of hospital-acquired infections, while VRE was associated with 4% of healthcare-associated infections as reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network from January 2006 to October 2007 (3).

To better understand the magnitude of this problem, mortality associated with hospital- acquired infections surpass those associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and AIDS combined. A 2009 report estimates of overall annual direct medical costs to U.S. hospitals ranges from $28.4 to $33.8 billion (4).

Patients having surgery here also benefit from this focus on infection control. From 2011-2012, Pacific Hospital’s Surgical Site Infection (SSI) rates were already significantly lower than the CDC-NSN rates. They were further reduced in 2012. For example, CDC-NSN rates per 100 procedures for Spinal Fusion ranged from 1.04 to 6.35 (5). PHLB rates dropped from 1.1 in 2011 to 0.2 in 2012. Consider that a 1% incidence of SSI was projected to generate national costs of over $900 million per year for in-hospital costs alone and a total of $1.6 billion in excess costs overall (6). More importantly, in a 2009 NNIS-CDC survey of 387,000 patients with hospital acquired infections, organ/space infections contributed to the death in 89% of the patients so afflicted (7).

Pacific Hospital has the lowest incidence of MRSA and Clostridium difficile in California. They have reduced surgical wound infections by 95%, central line-associated bloodstream infections by 90%, and ventilator-associated pneumonia by 90%.

How did they accomplish such promising success? The answers are simple. For example, one key factor includes patient hygiene carried out by the nurses. Other measures include an air ventilation system that uses ultra-violet light to kill germs, more time for maintenance staff to clean rooms, more frequent hand washing by staff members, and feeding yogurt to at-risk patients. “Just as important is the quality and detail put forth by the hospital’s environmental services staff”, says Pacific Hospital’s President, Jennifer Ensminger. Pacific Hospital frequently receives compliments about the cleanliness of the hospital.

It is surprising to learn that these inexpensive basic principles, when combined with a stringent housekeeping program, offer a simple solution to such a complex and costly national problem.

Pacific Hospital of Long Beach compares its infection rates with the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). National rates are based on inpatient data from nearly 300 participating hospitals across the country.


1. http://www.hasc.org/southern-california-patient-safety-first-collaborative
2. Emerging Infectious Diseases - www.cdc.gov/eid - Vol. 11, No. 6, June 2005
3. Hidron AI, Edwards JR, Patel J, et al. (November 2008). "NHSN annual update: antimicrobial-resistant pathogens associated with healthcare-associated infections: annual summary of data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006-2007". Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008 Nov;29(11):996-1011. doi: 10.1086/591861.
4. R. Douglas Scott II, http://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/hai/scott_costpaper.pdf
5. CDC NSN data report, 2011
6. de Lissovoy G, Fraeman K, Hutchins V, et al. Surgical site infection: incidence and impact on hospital utilization and treatment costs. Am J Infect Control 2009; 37:387- 397.
7. DiPiro JT, Martindale RG, Bakst A, et al. Infection in surgical patients: effects on mortality, hospitalization, and postdischarge care. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 1998;55:777–781.

About Pacific Hospital of Long Beach
Pacific Hospital of Long Beach is a full-service, for-profit, teaching hospital with 184 licensed acute care beds. We are fully accredited and have all the innovative technology that is expected of a medical center while providing a comforting home-like environment.

Contact Information: Francisco Floressantos, (562) 256-8380, francisco.floressantos@phlb.org
Source: Pacific Hospital of Long Beach

Media Relations Contact

Francisco Floressantos
Pacific Hospital of Long Beach

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