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California issues report on hospital infection rates

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 6, 2012
Contact: Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org or 415-431-6747, ext 126 or
Lisa McGiffert, lmcgiffert@consumer.org, 512-477-4431, ext 115
California Releases New Report on Hospital Infection Rates
Consumers Union: California is Now Taking the Lead
Among States On Hospital Infection Reporting

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued its
annual report today detailing patient infection rates at hospitals across the state. The
report publishes the rates for a wide variety of infections at California hospitals and helps
to establish California as a leader among states for disclosing such patient safety data,
according to Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.
“For years, California has lagged behind other states when it comes to reporting critical
hospital infection information to the public,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers
Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.SafePatientProject.org). “But now the state has
finally fully implemented its laws and is becoming a national leader by disclosing a broad
range of hospital infection rates to the public. California now serves as a model that
other states and the federal government should follow to show a more complete picture of
debilitating and deadly hospital infections. Today’s report shows that infection rates vary
widely among California hospitals and that many hospitals still have a lot of work to do
to protect patients from these preventable infections.’
This is the second annual report issued by the state, which is required by “Niles Law,” a
2008 state law that aims to encourage hospitals to improve efforts to prevent infections
by publicly disclosing each hospital’s track record. Nile Moss died of a hospital acquired
MRSA infection at the age of 15 and his mother, Carole Moss, worked to pass and
implement the law. Portions of this report were required by a 2006 law.
Consumers Union noted that the report reflects higher compliance among hospitals
when it comes to reporting infection data and that the state has played a role in this
CDPH is releasing surgical infection data for 2009 and 2010, which the state collected
on paper from hospitals across the state. Hospitals submitted infections connected with
cardiac, orthopedic and gastrointestinal surgeries, without direction from the department
regarding which specific procedures should be included. Thus, this portion of the report
does not allow comparisons among hospitals, but is of value in that it shows infections
occurring in these general categories. CDPH now requires hospitals to submit data in a
standardized manner through the CDC’s National Healthcare safety Network (NHSN),
which will help lead to more reliable reports.
Hospitals had sued the state to limit surgical infection reporting but the court ruled
against the hospitals and required the state to disclose infection rates for 29 different
surgical procedures as originally intended by law.
“California is disclosing infection rates on more surgical procedures than any other state
in the country,” said McGiffert. “The state is providing the public with data on infection
rates throughout hospitals wards, not just intensive care units like most other states.
While this data may not allow for comparisons between hospitals, it still gives consumers
important information regarding surgical infection rates at their own hospital.”
McGiffert noted that the report discloses surgical infection rates in a new, more consumer
friendly manner that enables the public to click on an interactive map to learn about
surgical infection rates at hospitals by region. While the information accessible through
this map is based on just three months of data, it represents an important start to making
this information available to the public. In the future, this website will include many
more hospitals and more types of surgeries.
In addition to surgical infections, the state disclosed data on other infections, including
central line associated bloodstream infections, C-Difficile infections, and MRSA and
VRE bloodstream infections. Again, California is now in front of other states by
disclosing infections that occurred throughout hospitals, rather than just in selected
departments like ICUs. CDPH plans on issuing a complete update of its report in July
2012. Subsequent reports on the previous calendar year’s infection rates will be released
each July beginning in 2013.