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Distracted drivers and healthcare infection data collected from California

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If you watch drivers going in and out of local Sacramento supermarkets, gas stations, or various shopping centers, notice how many are holding cell phones to their ears with one hand and driving with the other, drinking a hot cup of coffee or other liquid with one hand, and driving with the other, or eating fast-food, usually burgers or other foods on buns with the paper wrappers dangling in front of them, while turning out of shopping malls and super market parking areas, or gas stations.

You might witness several drivers a day doing those motions if you're a pedestrian watching cars poised or beginning to move near you as you cross in front of their paths, or when waiting for a light to change so you can walk. The issue is how often drivers are distracted, looking at the traffic lights or talking and texting, but not looking at you, the pedestrian in their path. Last year another study showed teenage girls are more distracted when driving then teenage males, according to the article, "Distracted Driving: Study shows teen girls take more risks than boys."

Drivers are engaged in other tasks about 10 percent of the time, according to the NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and a new study, "Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers," from Virginia Tech showing the crash risks are greatest for teenagers. The latest study of drivers in the Washington, D.C., area and in southwestern Virginia appears online in the January 2, 2014 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drivers eat, reach for the phone, text, or otherwise take their eyes off the road about 10 percent of the time they are behind the wheel, according to a study using video technology and in-vehicle sensors. Risks of distracted driving were greatest for newly licensed teen drivers, who were substantially more likely than adults to be involved in a crash or near miss while texting or engaging in tasks secondary to driving, according to the researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Virginia Tech. You also may wish to take a look at another study or its abstract, "Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers."

"Anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road can be dangerous," said study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH institute where the study was conducted. "But our study shows these distracting practices are especially risky for novice drivers, who haven't developed sound safety judgment behind the wheel," according to a January 1, 2014 news release, "Drivers engaged in other tasks about 10 percent of the time."

Experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving. However, the researchers found that distracted driving substantially increased the risks for new drivers. Compared to when they were not involved in secondary tasks, novice teen drivers were:

  • eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing
  • seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object,
  • almost four times more likely when texting, and
  • three times more likely when eating.

Talking on a cell phone did not increase risk among the adult or teenage drivers. However, because talking on a cell phone is preceded by reaching for the phone and answering or dialing--which increase risk greatly-- the study authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.

Citing earlier studies, the researchers noted that about 6 percent of drivers are 15 to 20 years old. Further, these younger drivers are involved in 11 percent of accident fatalities and 14 percent of reported crashes that result in injury. The study authors concluded that these data and their results indicate distraction appears to be an important contributor to this increased crash risk.

Dr. Simons-Morton collaborated with first author Sheila G. Klauer, Ph.D., Feng Guo, Ph.D., Suzie E. Lee, Ph.D., and Tom A. Dingus, Ph.D., all of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, and Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D., now at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada.

Cameras were installed in the cars of about 150 drivers to conduct the study

To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed video from cameras installed in the cars of about 150 drivers. About one-quarter of the drivers were novices, having had their license for no more than three weeks. The remaining drivers had, on average, 20 years of experience and ranged in age from 18 to 72.

Footage was taken whenever the cars were in motion, over a period of 12 to 18 months. Sensors recorded acceleration, sudden braking or swerving, drifting from a lane and other data.

When a crash occurred, or drivers had a near miss, the researchers documented whether the drivers were engaged in a distracting activity. They identified episodes when drivers talked, dialed or reached for a cell phone, reached for another object in the car, adjusted the car's temperature or radio controls, ate, drank, looked at a crash or something else outside the car, or adjusted a mirror, seatbelt or window in the car. The researchers also compared the frequency of these activities when a crash or near miss occurred to their frequency during segments of uneventful driving.

"Our data support the current trend in implementing restrictions on texting and cell phone use in vehicles," said Dr. Simons-Morton, according to the news release. "As new forms of technology increasingly are available in cars, it's important that drivers don't feel compelled to answer every incoming call or text. For young drivers' safety, parents can model this habit when they are at the wheel, and also let their children know that they should wait until the vehicle is stopped before taking a call—even when it's from mom or dad."

Healthcare infection data collected from California's hospitals last year

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state health officer, today announced the release of new reports summarizing healthcare associated infection (HAI) data, collected from California's hospitals in 2012 on several types of infections. An updated, interactive map highlighting individual hospital information has also been released, according to a report from the California Department of Health, "New Reports on Healthcare Associated Infections Released."

“These reports expand our knowledge of these dangerous infections and will ultimately result in better and safer care through increased awareness,” said Dr. Chapman, according to the news release, "New Reports on Healthcare Associated Infections Released."

“CDPH will continue working with hospitals throughout California to improve healthcare associated infection surveillance, prevention and lower infection rates. Making this information public and easy to use will give consumers helpful information they can consider when making educated choices about their healthcare.”

The reports provide data from California's hospitals for the following types of infections:

• Central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)
• Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) bloodstream infections
• Clostridium difficile infections (CDI); and
• Surgical site infections (SSI)

This year’s reports show that California hospitals are nearing 100 percent participation with reporting compliance. Specific findings include the following information:

• The overall number of central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in California was 5 percent lower in 2012 (2998) than in 2011 (3163). Of the 24 patient- location types (intensive care units and wards) reported, CLABSI rates were lower in 15 (63%) patient locations in 2012 compared to 2011. This year’s report incorporates hospital-specific adherence to central line insertion practices (CLIP), clinical practices known to prevent CLABSI, for each intensive care unit.

• In 2012, 386 (99.5%) California hospitals reported 12 months of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) data, compared to 93.8 percent of hospitals in 2011. Fifty-four hospitals reported no hospital-onset cases of CDI during 2012.

• The 2012 statewide methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infection (BSI) was down. The overall rate of hospital-onset MRSA BSI decreased 6 percent from 2011 (869) to 2012 (817). California hospitals also reported significantly fewer MRSA bloodstream infections than predicted by national comparison data.

• Of the 386 hospitals that reported vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) bloodstream infections (BSI) in 2012, 207 (54%) reported no hospital-onset VRE BSI, a slight increase compared to 176 (48.0%) hospitals that reported no hospital-onset VRE BSIs in 2011.

• The CDPH report represents the first full year that California hospitals reported surgical site infections (SSI) for 29 types of surgical procedures.

California leads the nation in the number of HAI publicly reported and continues making this information more accessible to the public. Along with these new reports, CDPH has updated and expanded its interactive map of healthcare associated infections (HAI) for consumers. CDPH notes that any interpretation or comparisons of the HAI data should be made with caution. As more data becomes available over time, it will be easier to draw comparisons. All California hospitals are required to report infection data electronically through the federal National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).



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