Infections in pediatric intensive care units put children's lives at risk and occur all too often, according to a new investigation from the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. We found that pediatric ICUs often have higher infection rates than adult ICUs, and that some hospitals do much better than others at preventing infections.
Our investigation focused on a particularly dangerous type of infection—central-line bloodstream infections. We rated 92 pediatric ICUs in 31 states plus Washington, D.C., which publicly reported enough data for us to make statistically valid assessments of their rate of bloodstream infections. Those infections are fatal in as many as one in four cases.
We found that 26 of the 92 pediatric ICUs got low scores for infections, while only five pediatric ICUs earned our highest Rating, reporting zero infections.
Two pediatric ICUs—the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville and the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.—received our lowest Rating, which means they reported infection rates more than twice as high as the national average. Another 24 hospitals got our second-lowest Rating, with infection rates that were higher than the national average.
“Those hospitals have work to do, but at least they have taken the first step by making their results public,” said John Santa, M.D., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “Taking accountability for infections is reassuring. We’re even more concerned about pediatric ICUs that choose to conceal their infection rates.”
The five hospitals with zero infections are Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul; Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.; Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans; and University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
For more on why infection rates are higher in pediatric ICUs, what you can do to keep your child safe, and to view our infection Ratings for all 92 pediatric ICUs, see the full report.