Consumer Reports: These are the nation's best hospitals at preventing infections

Smaller, non-teaching hospitals perform best

Consumer Reports on Wednesday released ratings on how more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals fared at preventing hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), with nine facilities receiving the highest ranking for avoiding potentially deadly pathogens.

According to CDC, about 648,000 people in the United States develop HACs each year—and 75,000 die as a result. Two of the deadliest superbugs are Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which kill a combined 35,000 people annually.

Superbugs infect two million Americans year—and they're rising

Details of the ratings

For the first time, Consumer Reports has included CDC data on MRSA and C. diff in its hospital ratings. The ratings also used data on central-line associated blood stream infections, surgical-site infections, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections to generate an overall infection prevention score. The data cover hospital performance between October 2013 and September 2014.

Note: The full ratings are available only to subscribers of Consumer Reports on the magazine's website.  

After adjusting for various factors, such as institution size, type, and patient mix, the highest-performing hospitals tended to be non-teaching providers and smaller facilities.

Consumer Reports found that 322 hospitals reported zero cases of MRSA, while 301 achieved a high rating for preventing MRSA because they performed well compared to similar facilities. Meanwhile, 357 hospitals reported no C. diff infections, while 560 achieved high ratings for their performance relative to their peers. In total, 105 hospitals received high ratings for preventing both MRSA and C. diff.

Overall, the hospitals that achieved the highest infection prevention rating across all included HACs were:

  • Northwest Texas Healthcare System (Amarillo, Texas);
  • Jupiter Medical Center (Jupiter, Florida);
  • White County Medical Center (Searcy, Arkansas );
  • Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center (Las Vegas, Nevada);
  • Biloxi Regional Medical Center (Biloxi, Mississippi);
  • Johnston Memorial Hospital (Abingdon, Virginia);
  • Lima Memorial Health System (Lima, Ohio);
  • Western Arizona Regional Medical Center (Bullhead City, Arizona); and
  • South Baldwin Regional Medical Center (Foley, Alabama).

Generally, teaching hospitals and large facilities performed worst on infection prevention. Consumer Reports notes the results could be skewed because teaching hospitals may perform more complex procedures and may be better at reporting infections. However, CDC data partly control for such factors (Consumer Reports, 7/29; Welch, CBS News, 7/29; Bird, FierceHealthcare, 7/29).

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