California report details hospital infection rates

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August 9, 2012

California Issues Report Detailing Hospital Infection Rates For 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a number of reports today updating hospital infection rates for hospitals throughout the state during 2011. All California hospitals are required to publicly report patient infection data as a result of a 2008 state law that aims to encourage hospitals to improve efforts to prevent infections.

Today’s reports cover central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) bloodstream infections, and certain surgical site infections. Information is also available on an interactive map, which combines the hospitals’ rates for the different types of infections.

“Preventable hospital-acquired infections continue to harm thousands of Californians every year,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.SafePatientProject.org ). “While infection rates may be decreasing slightly, there is still much work to be done. Today’s report should focus public attention on hospitals whose infection prevention efforts are falling short and put pressure on all hospitals to do more to keep patients safe.”

In addition to the data collected by California on CLABSI, MRSA, VRE, and surgical site infections, the state also collected data on Clostridium-difficile (C-difficile) infections but chose not to disclose that data until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s risk adjustment formula for C. difficile is released. That formula is also missing for MRSA and VRE infections, but the department has chosen to publish those. According to the CDC, C-difficile infections are increasingly common and are responsible for an estimated 14,000 deaths each year and 300,000 hospitalizations.

“C-difficile infections can be particularly difficult to treat because they have become increasingly antibiotic-resistant,” said McGiffert. “We’re disappointed that CDPH chose not to update the C. difficile infections rates because this virulent bug is a significant problem in hospitals and California is one of just a few states that are required to publish this valuable information.”

California’s hospital infection reporting law is also know as “Nile’s Law,” named after Nile Moss who died of a hospital acquired MRSA infection at the age of 15. His mother, Carole Moss, worked with Consumers Union and other groups to pass and implement the law.
California is one of 30 states across the country that requires hospital infection reporting. The state’s law covers a broader range of hospital infections than any other state infection reporting statute.

Contact: Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org or 415-431-6747, ext 126