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For Release:
September 06, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Reports on Surgical Infection Prevention in the 2007 Hospital Performance Report


The 2007 Hospital Performance Report released today is the first to publish New Jersey data on hospital performance in preventing potentially life-threatening surgical infections in patients, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. announced this afternoon at a press conference at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has already begun collecting more data on surgical quality and infection prevention that will appear in an expanded performance report next year.

According to the 2007 report, hospital performance overall continues to improve as the gap between high- and low-performing hospitals narrows.  New Jersey also exceeded national scores in 2006 in nearly all care measures for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia, as well as surgical infection prevention.

       “This means patients are more likely to get good care in these treatment areas no matter which hospital they choose,” Commissioner Jacobs said.  “That’s good news.  But our highest priority remains -- making sure every patient in every hospital gets high-quality care 100 percent of the time. Patients should know how well hospitals prevent infections—especially after surgery. Hospitals can reduce the risk of wound infection after surgery by administering the proper medicines at the correct time.”

Legislation was introduced recently requiring New Jersey hospitals to report to DHSS when in-patients develop infections.  The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, nationally, nearly one in 20 hospital patients is affected, leading to 88,000 deaths and $4.5 billion in additional costs annually.

The proposed legislation also requires that DHSS report each hospital’s infection rates in the annual Hospital Performance Report.   The department has already done preliminary work on an expanded public reporting system for infections, should the legislation be signed into law.

The 2007 Hospital Performance Report shows how often 80 hospitals used widely recognized best practices in treatment.  These tests and treatments – such as quickly giving aspirin to heart attack patients – are considered the nationally recognized standard of care.

Hospitals were scored on two measures of surgical infection prevention – giving patients antibiotics within one hour before surgery, and stopping antibiotic treatment within 24 hours after surgery ends (48 hours in the case of cardiac surgery).

New Jersey patients properly received preventive antibiotics 91 percent of the time, compared with 87 percent nationally.  Antibiotics were properly stopped 86 percent of the time, compared with 79 percent nationally.

Hospitals were scored on 17 other cardiac and pneumonia care measures. In 2006, New Jersey’s median overall pneumonia care score rose to 92 from 87 in 2005. The congestive heart failure treatment score was 91, compared with 86 the previous year.  The heart attack score improved to 96, from 94 previously.  A median overall score is the middle score.  It means half of all hospitals have a higher score and half have a lower score than the median.

Other highlights based on the report:

  • Sixty-four of the state’s 80 hospitals scored 100 on testing pneumonia patients’ blood oxygen level within 24 hours of arrival.
  • Twenty hospitals gave aspirin to every heart attack patient upon arrival.
  • The greatest gain since last year’s report -- 13 percent -- was in giving heart failure patients written instructions at discharge on issues such as diet, medications and follow-up care.
  • The greatest gain since 2003 – 81 percent -- was in assessing pneumonia patients, and giving them pneumococcal vaccine, if needed.  Pneumococcal vaccine can prevent future cases of pneumonia.
  • The Hospital Performance Report on the web ( is an interactive site that lets consumers create customized charts comparing individual hospitals and comparing hospitals by county and region.      

For detailed information on hospital scores and trends, visit the department’s web site at to view the report and data comparison charts.  Both the web and print reports also have information on the four highlighted conditions and their treatment, a section on consumer rights and responsibilities, and information on New Jersey health care resources.

"We’re pleased to be able to report on surgical infection prevention in this year’s report card,” said Peter A. Gross, M.D., of Hackensack University Medical Center and co-chair of the department’s Quality Improvement Advisory Committee (QIAC).  “We think this will help reduce post-operative surgical infection in New Jersey, just as public reporting has improved heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia care.” 

QIAC advises the department on quality issues. The 25-member panel includes hospital, physician, nurse, pharmacist, university, payer and consumer representatives.

DHSS continues to work with hospitals to improve health care quality.

With funding from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, the department, the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, and the New Jersey Hospital Association are in the second year of a 14-hospital project to improve congestive heart failure treatment.  Hospitals continue to attend training sessions and work on quality improvement projects.

Another DHSS initiative with six hospitals focusing on pneumonia treatment has ended.  However, the department will develop and disseminate information on the best practices of high-performing hospitals.

Last week, the Department released “Inpatient Quality Indicators: New Jersey 2005,” which provided additional quality information on the state’s hospitals.  That report included in-patient death rates, by hospital, for a variety of medical conditions and surgical procedures, and data on numbers of specific procedures each hospital performed. 

Please visit the department’s web site at to view the report and data charts, and to use the interactive comparison features of the on-line performance report.  For the first time, the report is also being translated into Spanish and will be available later this month.

For copies of the Hospital Performance Report, write the Office of the Commissioner, Health Care Quality Assessment, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360, or call (800) 418-1397.

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