Does Infection Reporting Really Work? We Don’t Know Yet

We are now about ten years into the phenomenon of states’ requiring acute care hospitals to report healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) to their departments of health. At this point, most U.S. states and territories have enacted such laws.

An article in the June 20 issue of the American Journal of Medical QuaInfection reporting imagelity describes trends about enactment of the laws themselves and the type of data the laws cover. An abstract of the article can be found here.

Highlights from the authors’ research:

*As of January 31, 2013, the total number of states and territories adopting mandatory reporting laws had reached 37 (71%). Most of these laws were enacted and became effective in 2006-2007.

*Nearly all states (92%) that have HAI reporting laws mandate that data on central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in adult intensive care units be submitted to the appropriate state agency.

*About half of states (54%) require that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections be reported. A similar number (51%) require reporting of Clostridium difficile infections.

Substantial resources have been committed to the reporting effort, both at the facility and state levels. That’s why the authors suggest that future research should focus on whether these laws have been effective in reducing HAIs, which is their intended result.

Consumers Union has long campaigned for patient safety improvements in U.S. healthcare, including the mandatory reporting of infections. You can stay abreast of their and other efforts in this regard here.

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