Confused hospitals underreport infections

Despite reports that catheter infection rates are nearly 50 percent lower than the national average, California public health officials are investigating whether the reports accurately reveal the infections occurring at hospitals, reported California Watch.

The probe demonstrates a larger trend, as hospital infection reports are under scrutiny in Colorado and Connecticut, among other states.

Researchers found that Colorado hospitals underreported infections by about 30 percent, according to Colorado Public Radio. Of 527 patients, 56 had infections that should have been reported as "hospital-acquired," but 19 went unreported.

Similarly, researchers in Connecticut reviewed 476 cases in which patients developed septicemia and identified 48 cases should have been reported; however, hospitals only publicly reported about half, noted California Watch. According to hospitals in both Colorado and Connecticut, staff confusion with reporting guidelines led to underreporting.

Meanwhile, a state review of infection rates at New York hospitals found that strict surveillance programs led to higher infection rates. But such high rates might represent better reporting, not necessarily inferior care, according to the article.

Colorado's health department plans to use federal grants to audit hospital reporting on four more infection types, hoping the findings will teach hospitals how to more accurately report infections, noted CPR.

For more information:
- read the California Watch article
- read the CPR article