300-Plus Pennsylvania Nursing Homes Begin Reporting HAIs

More than 300 nursing homes in the eastern region of Pennsylvania began reporting healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) this week to the Patient Safety Authority through its Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS). Central and western regions of the state will begin reporting by the end of June.

Legislation signed into law in July 2007 (Act 52) made it mandatory for all hospitals and nursing homes to report healthcare-associated infections. Nursing homes must report HAIs to the Authority and the Department of Health (DOH). The Authority significantly expanded PA-PSRS to enable nursing homes to use the reporting system that has worked well for facilities that must report under Act 13 of 2002 (MCare Act).

Hospitals began reporting in February 2008 through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) reporting system. The Authority, the Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4) have access to NHSN for their individual roles in helping eliminate and reduce HAIs.

“The Authority’s role is to help educate facilities on what we’re seeing in the data and provide guidance so they can reduce and eliminate healthcare-associated infections,” Mike Doering, executive director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority said. “The information we analyze will be featured in articles in the Patient Safety Advisories we produce quarterly.”

Doering said the nursing homes are reporting in a phased roll-out by region to minimize any potential problems with implementation. Nursing homes in the central region will begin reporting June 15 and facilities in the western region will begin reporting June 22. He added that preparing nursing homes for reporting was a more resource intensive process than preparing the hospitals.

“Since hospitals were reporting through NHSN much of the work was already done. The reporting system was practically in place and ready for them to input their information,” Doering said. “For nursing homes we had to start from square one and determine exactly what should be reported, put that information out for public comment and re-develop the PA-PSRS system specifically for nursing homes to input their HAI events and then train them on how to use the electronic system.”

Doering added that the Authority’s Board of Directors assembled the Healthcare-Associated Infection Advisory panel in September 2007, shortly after Act 52 was signed into law. The Advisory panel helped establish what infections are being reported by nursing homes.

“Our board understood the importance of establishing an expert panel as quickly as possible to get the reporting process moving forward,” Doering said. “So far, facilities in the east are entering reports and appear to have had few problems.”

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