New Hospital Compare data shows disparity in blood infection rates

Newly released blood infection data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare website has revealed a wide variation in central line-associated bloodstream infections across states, according to NPR's Shots blog.

It appears that central-line blood infections are more likely at hospitals in Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana, Maine and New Hampshire, according to the new data, gathered from intensive care units at 1,146 U.S. hospitals in the first quarter of 2011.

Conversely, patients at hospitals in Hawaii, Alaska, South Dakota, Kansas and Indiana had the fewest bloodstream infections.

With zero as the perfect score, Hawaii came in at number one with 0.06, while Maryland had the worst central line infection rate of 0.91.

But bloodstream infections rate varied widely within states. For instance, in Virginia, Mary Washington Hospital scored 0.28, much better than the 0.6 state-wide average and the 1.0 benchmark score for all U.S. hospitals, reported The Free Lance-Star.

The discrepancies have led some hospital officials to warn consumers about using the new bloodstream infection data to compare individual hospitals, especially given the three-month timeframe, noted the Pioneer Press.

"I don't think you can look at this alone to get a picture of quality," said Boyd Wilson, director for infection control and prevention at HealthEast in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. "This data can be reported in different ways, so you have to be careful," he told the Pioneer Press.

To learn more:
- here's the NPR Shots blog post
- here's the Free Lance-Star article
- read the Pioneer Press article