The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recognized 37 U.S. hospital and health care facilities for their efforts to prevent hospital-associated infections (HAIs), a leading cause of death in the United States. The awards recognizes individuals and institutions for their efforts to reduce ventilator-associated pneumonia and bloodstream infections associated with central intravenous lines.

HAIs are infections that are acquired while patients are receiving medical treatment for other conditions. One in every 20 hospital patients acquires an infection related to his hospital care. HAIs can have devastating emotional, financial and medical consequences.

“People enter a hospital expecting to get healthier, not sicker,” said Assistant Secretary for Health, Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH. “We applaud hospitals for their efforts in improving the quality and safety of health care for all Americans.”

Awards were conferred on two levels, according to specific criteria tied to national standards. The “Outstanding Leadership Award” went to teams and organizations that sustained success in reaching their targets for 25 months or more. The “Sustained Improvement Award” recognizes teams that demonstrated consistent and sustained progress over an 18- to 24-month period.

Of the 37 Initial award recipients one Northern California hospital — Seton Medical Center in Daly City — was recognized in the category “Achievements in Eliminating Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia” with an “ Outstanding Leadership Award”. Three Southern California facilities received “Sustained Improvement” Awards: St. Joseph Hospital, Orange; Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena; and Palmdale Regional Medical Center, Palmdale.