NQF Announces Project to Set National Standards for Public Reporting of HAIs

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) -- infections that patients contract in hospitals, nursing homes, or other care settings -- kill an estimated 90,000 patients each year in the United States. The National Quality Forum (NQF) announced a project to seek consensus on a set of national standards for public reporting of HAI data so that patients and their families can access this important information and providers can work to reduce such infections.

An estimated 2 million Americans contract HAIs each year. HAIs include surgical site infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. Experts believe that up to 30 percent of such infections are preventable. HAIs add up to an extra $5.7 billion in healthcare costs. Despite their dramatic impact, no national standard for reporting HAI data exists. In the past two years, seven states have passed legislation requiring the reporting of HAI data, and more than 30 states have similar legislation pending.

NQF will rectify this situation by endorsing national reporting standards and a standardized method for collecting, aggregating, and reporting HAI data that will allow comparisons across and among states and over time. Because of its transparent process and broad stakeholder participation, NQF-endorsed(TM) standards have special legal standing as voluntary consensus standards.

"Healthcare-associated infections constitute a major public health problem today; their impact is immense," says Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, CEO of Medsphere Systems Corporation, and co-chair of the National Voluntary Consensus Standards for the Reporting of Healthcare-associated Infection Data Steering Committee. "Devising uniform standards for tracking and publicly reporting healthcare-associated infections will be an important step towards reducing their toll."

"We know that public reporting works, and the more we report publicly, the better," says Daniel W. Varga, MD, chief medical officer of Norton Healthcare, and co-chair of the National Voluntary Consensus Standards for the Reporting of Healthcare-associated Infection Data Steering Committee. "The healthcare provider community and ultimately patients will benefit from having a standardized method to report HAIs."

Primary support for this project is provided by the Texas Medical Institute of Technology (TMIT), a not-for-profit medical research organization dedicated to drive adoption of clinical solutions in patient safety and healthcare performance improvement.  Additional support is being provided by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).

"Hospital-acquired infections represent an enormous opportunity to save lives, save money, and build trust in the communities we serve," says Charles R. Denham, MD, chairman of TMIT. "This project will empower our industry to combat such infections at the frontline and deliver the safer care our patients deserve."

"APIC advocates zero tolerance for HAIs," says Kathy L. Warye, APICs executive director. "Clearly, the alternative of having each of the 50 states adopt different standards will be a disservice to patients and healthcare institutions alike. Thus, we strongly support a standardized method of tracking and reporting infections."

"Reporting of healthcare quality data has become a way of life," says Annette Mucha, SHEAs executive director. "We look forward to promoting practices that are epidemiologically sound, scientifically valid, and fair to healthcare providers and consumers alike."

NQF is a voluntary consensus standard-setting organization. It is a private, not-for-profit, public benefit corporation established in 1999 to standardize healthcare quality measurement and reporting. 

Source: National Quality Forum

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