Health Care

September 27, 2013

KDHE releases statistics on Kansas hospital-acquired infections

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment unveiled statistics Thursday regarding infections acquired in hospitals.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment unveiled statistics Thursday regarding infections acquired in hospitals.

This is the first time the state has collected the data, according to officials.

The 2011 data for Kansas showed the hospitals that reported had 67 percent fewer bloodstream infections from central line devices and 26 percent fewer urinary tract infections from catheters as compared with national reference data for patients in intensive care units.

Fifty of 55 hospitals with intensive care units reported data to the state, officials said. They did not release the names of the participating hospitals.

Kansas is one of only a few states that does not require health care providers to report infection rates. It’s unclear if there will eventually be a mandate for facilities to report that information, said Joseph Scaletta, health-care-associated infections program director for the KDHE.

“That is phenomenal,” Scaletta said of the rates at the Central Plains Expo, a conference for those in infection control and environmental services. “Remember we don’t have a legislative mandate. Kansas cowboyed up and said ‘We’re not going to write this into regulation. Regulations are cumbersome. They change. You’ve got to get a lot of buy-in. Let’s just see what we can do on our own.’”

Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin don’t have a mandate for reporting but still offer reports, Scaletta said.

Data for the report was aggregated, and information for individual facilities won’t be released, Scaletta said. The state also has no plans to identify those hospitals that don’t report infection rates.

“That’s a recommendation of the health-care-associated infections advisory group because if someone is not reporting, then that facility is perceived in a certain way and we really want to encourage them” to report, Scaletta said.

“The biggest reason why folks aren’t reporting is they were nervous about what we were going to do with the data. They didn’t want to see facility-level data out there.”

When asked how consumers can make informed decisions about providers without data on specific facilities, Scaletta said Medicare’s Hospital Compare website has hospital-acquired infections data for some facilities. And in cases where no data is available, he suggested patients contact a hospital’s infection preventionist.

“I think on a case-by-case basis they will disclose, say where their rate lies, and highlight things patients should look for,” he said.

Nadyne Hagmeier, a registered nurse and project manager for the Kansas Foundation for Medical Care, is part of the advisory committee, which is made up of several groups, including the KDHE, hospital and provider advocacy groups and Kansas chapters of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

“Is there a need for a mandate in every state? Not necessarily, if the hospitals are willing to report,” Hagmeier said.

She thinks it would be good to have individual data at the state level.

“As a consumer, absolutely. And as a health care provider and infection preventionist, the more data we can get, the better. Initially we wanted to see what hospitals would do: Would they step up to the plate and begin reporting? And it’s working,” Hagmeier said.

“It is impossible to say” whether those hospitals that didn’t participate had rates of infection that would have changed the overall state data, Scaletta said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans contract more than 1.7 million infections each year while being treated in hospitals. The CDC reported that those infections result in about 99,000 deaths each year. About 1.3 million of the infections are acquired outside intensive care units.

The state has already started collecting more data from hospitals for 2012, Scaletta said, including for surgical site infections for colon surgeries, abdominal hysterectomies and MRSA for inpatient stays, not just intensive care units.

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