Consumer Reports Investigates: Dangerous Infections More Likely In Pediatric ICUs

Some shocking news from our serious siblings at Consumer Reports. They analyzed 92 pediatric ICUs across the country in a new investigation, and found that only five percent of those earned their highest Rating for preventing dangerous and sometimes deadly hospital-acquired central-line bloodstream infections.

While the report does point out that in the last 10 years, awareness of hospital-acquired infections has grown and helped to lower infection rates for both adults and pediatric ICUs, rates are still too high. It’s hard to come by information on those rates, as numbers on bloodstream infection rates are only publicly available for half of the 423 PICUs nationwide.

The two PICUs with Consumer Reports’ lowest rating are the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville and the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. That means they reported central-line bloodstream infection rates more than twice as high as the national average.

Consumer Reports found that most hospitals could do a better job at preventing infections, whether they are large institutions or smaller.

“Every ICU, whether it’s a pediatric or adult unit, should be able to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the number of hospital infections,” said John Santa. M.D., M.P.H, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “The procedures to eliminate infections are simple, low-tech, and low-cost, relying for the most part on a change of mindset where the hospital staff comes to believe that an infection is never an acceptable outcome.”

Check out for more information on the investigation.

Many pediatric ICUs have high infection rates [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. clippy2.0 says:

    No “Think of the Children” tag?

    Also, that is truly terrifying, especially in this day and age

  2. misterfweem says:

    Wow. Consumer Reports does a Ric Romero. Who knew?

  3. Cat says:

    Do they also take into consideration that in the last 10 – 20 years, neonatal ICU’s have cared for increasingly more premature babies, and very early preemies have really immature immune systems?

    • c_c says:

      NICU ≠ PICU, the latter of which was the subject of this study.

      • kennedar says:

        Right, but many NICU babies graduate to the PICU before going home. The youngest NICU patients may grow enough to move to a PICU room, but they still often have issues surrounding their immune system. One of the largest risks with micro-preemies is sepsis and infection and many of these children continue to have immune system issues for the rest of their lives.

        Additionally, the stress of having a child in the NICU/PICU means that many mothers are unable to produce breastmilk. Those who can often have children with underdeveloped gastro-intestinal tracks, making it impossible for the baby to digest breastmilk. Consequently, the children are not getting the antibodies that are in the breastmilk, making them more suspetable to infection.

  4. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    For $2,000/day (cost for NICU at our county hospital), one would think they would take pretty extreme precautions.

    • nicless says:

      That’s approximately the pricetag for my son’s stay of 51 days at the NICU. Seeing an insurance bill for $100,000 was pretty scary. While my son was in the NICU he *somehow* got pinkeye. It went away pretty quick but I never really got a straight answer as to how he got it.

      • Cat says:

        $30,000 for my 1 week old daughter’s trip to the ER + a week in NICU for RSV in 2005.

        We paid $300 plus the ambulance out of pocket. We now have crappy insurance. If it happened today, we’d lose everything.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          It cost us $5,000 out-of-pocket, on top of $1,000/month in insurance when our youngest was born.

          If it happened today, it would cost us $10,000 out-of-pocket but at least we’re spending a hell of a lot less than $1,000/month for insurance.

          If it happened in 2014, we would just sign up for the best, Cadillac insurance we could find on our way to the hospital and cancel it upon discharge.

      • Chris says:

        Is that all? A friend of mine had a preemie 10 weeks early and their 2 month stay was just under $500k!

    • lettucefactory says:

      My son spent two weeks in the PICU then two weeks on the regular pediatrics floor. Grand total was around 300K. We had to pay on the order of $3,000 out of pocket.

      Obviously it was more than worth it – they saved my son’s life – but I shudder to think what our lives would be like now if we’d not had great insurance at the time.

  5. PunditGuy says:

    My daughter was born a few weeks early and spent a little under a week at a PICU in Minneapolis. There were bottles of foaming hand sanitizer everywhere, along with signs to “Foam In, Foam Out” (use it when you enter an area, use it when you leave an area). Everyone did it — parents, visitors, techs, nurses, doctors.

  6. Hi_Hello says:

    From what I hear…doctors rarely wash their hands…. they don’t get fired for it. Nurses will get fired if they don’t wash their hands…

  7. ajaxd says:

    Infections are very common in NICUs – no matter how many precautions are taken because of the number of invasive procedures they do. Many kids have central lines (an IV that goes into major blood vessel in the stomach) and are intubated. They also have pretty weak immune systems and infections strikes fast and is deadly. You just can’t compare adult and kid ICUs.

  8. azgirl says:

    Sometimes I wonder if hospitals could take a queue from semi-conductor factories- where air is cleaned down to the parts per million level…they have clean down to a very fine degree…they are obviously fighting a different contaminant, but I suspect the end result would be better anyway…I rarely got sick when I worked there. It was pure awesome.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I have absolutely seen manufacturing clean rooms that were *much* cleaner than several hospital ERs and doctor’s offices. Sad huh?

  9. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    So, the same doctors who demand “tort reform” because there are too many malpractice suits, these are the same doctors who (studies show) can’t be bothered to wash their hands between patients, despite the fact that their dirty hands are a major cause of patient infections.

    You’d think if the terrible, terrible threat of malpractice suits was driving doctors to regretfully practice very expensive “defensive medecine”, then the FIRST “defensive medecine” step doctors would take would be to WASH THEIR HANDS!

    But they don’t. Maybe because you can’t bill $22K for just washing your hands.

  10. unpolloloco says:

    “Every ICU, whether it’s a pediatric or adult unit, should be able to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the number of hospital infections”

    How in the world do you eliminate infections? Reduce, yes (and there’s been a huge push to do so), but eliminate is impossible unless we eradicate germs….They will find their way in and will manage to infect. In fact, patients often get infections from the germs they themselves bring in. That said, there are still many measures that can be taken to reduce infection levels.

  11. MickeyG says:

    Not something I wanted to read having just brought my preemie baby home recently…