CMS publishes hospital infection data over AHA objections

Despite opposition from hospitals, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the first data on hospital-acquired conditions and is expected to post the information on the HospitalCompare website for Medicare beneficiaries on April 21.

Hospitals reported the data to CMS as part of their submission of inpatient quality information. The downloadable file contains data on eight hospital-acquired conditions reported between Oct. 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. Among the conditions are air embolism, blood incompatibility, catheter-associated infections, falls and trauma, foreign objects left in the body after surgery, pressure ulcers, uncontrolled blood sugar levels, and urinary tract infections.

The electronic file shows the data as a spreadsheet that includes the average national incidence of each condition, hospitals' incidence of each condition, and hospitals' rate of each condition per 1,000 discharges.

The publication of the data was postponed from September 2010 after hospitals expressed their concern over the accuracy of the information. The American Hospital Association strongly opposed the release of the data.

CMS will soon clarify some of the details surrounding the data on hospital-acquired conditions. Meanwhile, it appears that publication of this data on HospitalCompare will provide much more safety data on hospitals than is now publicly available. Twenty-seven states require institutions to report hospital-acquired infection rates publicly.

To learn more:
- see the item in AHA News
- read the St. Louis Post Dispatch story
- check out the report on hospital-acquired infections from the National Conference of State Legislatures (.pdf)