N.C. moves closer to HAI reporting mandate

North Carolina doesn't mandate public reporting of hospital infection data, but it's moving one step closer.

A bill introduced in the North Carolina House last year would have appropriated $1.1 million over two years to create a mandatory statewide surveillance and reporting system for hospital infections. However, the state budget crunch pushed the bill off lawmakers' radar.

The delay was necessary because North Carolina isn't ready for public reporting, says North Carolina Hospital Association spokesman Don Dalton. Putting out "inaccurate and insufficient data" could provide as much public harm as benefit, he says.

About two dozen states mandate that hospitals report hospital-acquired infection data (HAI). Mandatory public reporting in N.C., will be a "big jump" for North Carolina hospitals, says William Rutala, a professor of infectious disease at UNC Chapel Hill and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Occupational Health at UNC Health Care. The state will need to develop a system that ensures all hospitals use the same definitions for acquired infections and that is risk-adjusted, he says.

To learn more about infection data in North Carolina:
- read the Charlotte Observer article