Newspapers, including this one, love the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis' observation that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." Corruption, indeed, breeds in the darkness of secrecy.

There are times when Justice Brandeis' metaphor is even more wonderful - when it comes close to being literal.

Such is the case regarding an ongoing development in the state's health care industry.

Last week the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network released a report detailing and justly celebrating significant reductions in infections acquired by patients while in hospitals.

The data include a 6 percent reduction in "central-line infections" related to the use of catheters and other such lines, and a whopping 41 percent reduction in surgical-site infections in hip and knee procedures.

Those are substantial achievements. And they flow in part from a pioneering project by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council that many hospitals in the state initially resisted. The agency compiled detailed data on hospital-acquired infections that led regulators to demand improvement, the industry to strive for those improvements and the insurance industry to further the trend by refusing to reimburse for certain hospital-acquired conditions.

The new hospital report also identified several other areas in which the industry has improved patient care. In combination with the infection reductions, that's good for more than 32,000 patients who did not experience complications while in the hospital. And it eliminated about $386 million in costs.

Clearly, the application of sunlight literally contributed to the reduction in infections. As in many other matters, transparency is a good prescription for progress.