More states have begun to mandate reporting of healthcare-associated infection rates, and new findings from New York state's health department suggest that auditing infection data to ensure its validity is a necessary step.
Verification of infection data seen as key step
New York requires hospitals to submit healthcare-associated infection, or HAI, data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network, its online surveillance system. And in 2008, state officials developed an auditing process to ensure reported data were accurate, according to a news release. Based on those audits, state officials determined that some New York hospitals were making mistakes that could potentially skew infection rates, Peggy Ann Hazamy, a research scientist at the state health department's HAI Reporting Program, said in a recent teleconference.
The state's health department released the findings at the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, in New Orleans.
By comparing the data submitted to CDC with patient records, the auditors concluded that some hospitals misunderstood certain NHSN terms, such as the duration of a procedure, and as a result, were making inadvertent reporting errors. “Our results demonstrate the critical need for a validation process,” Hazamy said in the release. “In general, HAI reporting errors were rare, and in the errors we did find lack of familiarity with CDC definitions was typically the cause.”
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