Hospital Compare Will Publish Occurence of Infection at Hospitals

Feb 17, 2012

A web service that helps patients view hospital quality will begin publishing data on the occurrence of infection associated with central line-associated bloodstream infections.

Hospital Compare, which provides information about the quality of care in more than 4,700 hospitals across the country, plans to publish data on the occurrence of infection at specific hospitals.

Dr. Michael Rapp is the director of the quality measurement and health assessment group for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, which runs Hospital Compare. He said publishing data online will hold hospitals accountable, improving the service of caregivers.

"I think just having this information readily available first of all is useful to the hospital, but also … we're always affected by peer performance and we want to do well on this," Rapp said.

Studies show that in a given year, around 10,000 people will die from a central line-associated bloodstream infection or CLABSI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 250,000 patients with center lines contract blood stream infections. The center line procedure involves maneuvering a catheter through a large vein usually in the neck of a patient. Center lines are inserted in nearly 50% of Intensive Care Unit patients.

Rapp said the low rate of fatal infections compared to the large number of central line procedures done each year doesn't undermine their severity.

"When they occur they're both significant in terms of the cost to the healthcare system, to the prolongation of a patient's stay in the intensive care unit for example, and also potentially the adverse effects to the patient themselves," Rapp said.

Up to 25 percent of people who get a CLABSI will die from the infection. The infection prolongs hospital stays, and can add about $17,000 to hospitalization bills according to CMS.

Rapp said elimination is unlikely, but better procedures including completely sterile conditions can push the rate closer to zero.

"Infections are always a problem in healthcare so when you pierce the skin, bacteria can get in there," Rapp said. "So it's what is sort of an expected complication in a number of instances, but the point with this is that you can reduce the frequency of that."