New data gathered through the CDCs National Healthcare Safety Network gives patients a first look at how their local hospitals are doing at preventing Clostridium difficile infections asnd methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.
This information and other hospital performance measures are collected as part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and is publicly available on the Hospital Compare website.
The numbers represent only the first quarter of 2013; measurements of how hospitals are doing will be more precise and provide a more complete picture as more information is collected over time. The next update, which will represent six months of data, is scheduled for April.
Hospitals understand the importance of reporting, and their leaders are using this information to prevent infections and keep their patients safer, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release.
The Hospital IQR Program uses a variety of tools to help stimulate and support improvements in patient care, including the Hospital Compare website, which helps distribute objective, easy-to-understand data on hospital performance.
The Hospital Compare website enables consumers to make informed choices and gives hospital leaders and their staff comparative information to help drive improvement, Patrick Conway, MD, CMS chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, said in the news release. Central line bloodstream infections have decreased more than 40% through transparency and improvement efforts, which has saved thousands of lives, and we hope to see the same positive results for these two common infections.
C. difficile causes at least 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths every year and was recently categorized by the CDC as an urgent threat to patient safety. On the other hand, although still a common and severe threat to patients, invasive MRSA infections in healthcare settings appear to be declining. Between 2005 and 2011 overall rates of invasive MRSA dropped 31%. Success began with preventing central-line-associated bloodstream infections caused by MRSA, for which rates fell nearly 50% from 1997 to 2007.
Some facilities that do not have a sufficient amount of data to collect may not have their infection ratios included in the Hospital IQR Program and subsequently, on the Hospital Compare website. For example, the number of C. difficile and MRSA bloodstream infections in some smaller facilities might not provide enough information to calculate infection ratios until those facilities report additional calendar quarters of data.
In accordance with the clinical quality measure used by CMS and CDC for laboratory-identified C. difficile and MRSA bloodstream infections, the Hospital Compare website only reflects hospital-onset infections, which are defined as those detected after patients are hospitalized for a minimum of three days. Patients whose infections arose outside of the hospital are not included in the infection counts for the quality measure.
Major teaching hospitals, hospitals with more than 400 beds and those with high community-onset rates continue to have the highest risk for C. difficile and MRSA bloodstream infections, all of which is taken into account by risk adjustment when the clinical quality measure is calculated.
National Healthcare Safety Network: www.cdc.gov/nhsn
Hospital Compare: www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html