Monday, June 13, 2011

Reasons to question Consumer Report’s report on hospital performance

Consumer Reports published new hospital ratings recently. One of the key measures in the report was CLABSI and SSI rates. The report obtained CLABSI and SSI rates from states with mandatory reporting and from the independent reporting agency, the Leapfrog Group.

One conclusion in the report is that large teaching hospitals perform poorly in preventing CLABSIs. According to the report, 3 teaching hospitals got the lowest rating in preventing CLABSIs and 64 teaching hospitals got the second lowest rating.

APIC has issued a letter to the infection prevention community to bring attention to the findings in this report. APIC pointed to several reasons why findings from the report may not tell the whole story. Patient demographics vary widely between teaching hospitals and small community hospitals. Many teaching hospitals serve as Level 1 trauma centers that treat patients with more serious illness than those treated at community hospitals. Patients with serious illnesses have a higher risk of becoming infected than others. Another reason that the report may not be reliable is due to the robustness of the infection prevention program in place at each institution examined. Hospitals with strong infection prevention practices may identify more cases of HAIs than hospitals without good practices. As a result the facility that actively tracks HAIs may appear to have worse rates than those which do track HAIs closely.

While APIC encourages the public to use the information to initiate conversations with healthcare providers to learn more about a hospital’s infection prevention program, the organization emphasizes that the public should not base their decisions and opinions solely on this report.

Link to Consumer Reports' Hospital Rating

Article on teaching hospitals having worse HAI rates than other hospitals

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