Hospitals dispute HHS infection data

New data posted to the Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS) Hospital Compare website has sparked criticism from hospitals and health systems across the nation. While some hospitals complained the website features outdated information, hospitals in California are contesting its accuracy.

In particular, the California Hospital Association (CHA) is questioning Hospital Compare data that indicates some area hospitals have significantly higher blood infection rates than the national average, reports Payers & Providers.

According to CMS data, the national rate for blood infections from catheters in a large vein is 0.367 per 1,000 discharges, whereas Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, among others, have rates much higher (1.785, 1.723, and 0.928, respectively).

One of CHA's chief concerns is that Hospital Compare bases its data on medical coding and not clinical medical records. Hospitals have only just started using coding data for quality reporting and are better at using data from patient charts, notes Payors & Providers.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) also has challenged the Hospital Compare data. "We believe the data is fairly seriously flawed in the way it's calculated," Nancy Foster, AHA vice president, told Kaiser Health News. "When inaccurate data is out there, it both misleads the public and generates a lot of activity that is unproductive in the hospital."

For more information:
- here's the Payers & Providers article (.pdf)
- read the Kaisier Health News article
- visit the Hospital Compare website