CDC Advisory Committee Offers Guidance to States on Developing Systems for Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) Healthcare Infection Control and Prevention Advisory Committee (HICPAC) has released recommendations for policymakers who are seeking to create mandatory public reporting systems of healthcare-associated infections.


To date, four states, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Florida, have passed laws requiring hospitals to publicly report healthcare-associated infections. Now, as an additional 30 states move toward mandatory public release of this information, leaders in the field of patient safety have turned to CDC for guidance about creating mandatory reporting systems.


As the nations health protection agency, CDC is committed to helping ensure all Americans receive the best and safest care possible when they go to a hospital or other healthcare facility, says CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding.  The recommendations released will go a long way to helping healthcare providers focus further on the importance of infection control and prevention. We are dedicated to helping make our healthcare facilities become even safer than they are now.


While HICPAC concluded there is currently not enough evidence to determine whether mandatory public reporting of healthcare-associated infections will reduce infection rates, the advisory committee recommended that states implementing public reporting should strive to gather meaningful infection control data and use nationally recommended infection control measures. To provide consumers and healthcare facilities with the best information, HICPAC recommends that states that are developing public reporting systems be sure to:


Use established public health surveillance methods.

Involve people with infection control expertise in the process.

Track practices that prevent infections, in addition to measuring infection rates.

Provide regular and confidential feedback to healthcare providers.


 The goal of mandatory reporting is to provide consumers with information they can use to make informed healthcare choices, said Dr. Denise Cardo, director of CDCs Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. We dont know yet if public reporting will reduce the number of infections, but we do support collecting information that can lead to improvements in patient safety.


The CDC estimates that each year nearly 2 million patients in the United States contract infections in hospitals and about 90,000 of these patients die as a result of their infection. Bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections comprise most of all healthcare-associated infections. The percentage of healthcare-associated infections that are preventable is unknown. However, the CDC believes that adherence to recommended infection control strategies can reduce infections substantially.


We hope this guidance will be used by lawmakers and consumer advocacy organizations as a framework for designing systems that will provide helpful information for consumers and the places that give care, said Dr. Patrick J. Brennan, chairman of HICPAC. The goal for everyone should be information that tells us how well we are doing in taking steps that can save lives.