Consumer Reports' New Hospital Ratings Puts Spotlight on Acquired Infections

By on 5:03 AM

Consumer Reports has announced it is factoring in two new acquired infections in its hospital ratings.

The ratings of more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals now includes information on  Clostridium difficile (C. diff) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, joining central-line associated blood stream infections, surgical-site infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. To develop ratings for MRSA and C. diff, Consumer Reports indicated it analyzed infections data submitted by the hospitals to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And bad news for patients: Many hospitals are not performing well.

Consumer Reports states that three out of 10 hospitals in its ratings received one of its two lowest scores for avoiding C. diff; four out of 10 received low marks for avoiding MRSA. Only 6% of hospitals scored well against preventing both infections.

There are two reasons why Consumer Reports indicated it is focusing on C. diff and MRSA. The first is the infections are common and deadly. More than 290,000 Americans are sickened by C. diff in a hospital or other healthcare facility each year, with at least 27,000 of them dying from the infection. More than 8,000 patients are killed by MRSA each year, with almost 60,000 sickened by the infection.

The second reason is poor MRSA or C. diff rates can "be a red flag that a hospital isn't following best practices in preventing infections and prescribing antibiotics. That could not only allow C. diff and MRSA to spread but also turn the hospital into a breeding ground for other resistant infections that are even more difficult to treat," according to Consumer Reports.

While many hospitals rate poorly, some excelled. To earn Consumer Reports' top rating in preventing MRSA or C. diff, a hospital had to report zero infections. There were 322 hospitals that achieved this level in its MRSA ratings, and 357 accomplished it for C. diff (although Consumer Reports acknowledged that some hospitals may manipulate their data to appear safer and avoid possible financial penalties).

More hospitals were able to earn either of Consumer Reports' two highest ratings, indicating they reported either zero infections or did much better than predicted compared with similar hospitals. More than 623 hospitals received high marks for MRSA, and 917 did so for C. diff.

Read the full Consumer Reports article by clicking here and see Consumer Reports' most complete and current ratings for more than 3,000 U.S hospitals by clicking here.

If your hospital requires assistance with reducing healthcare-associated infections, contact Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS). For more than 30 years, ICCS has provided hospital infection prevention consulting services, which include development of customized infection prevention programs, assistance with complying with regulations and standards, preparation of corrective plans of action related to survey deficiencies, on-site and remote educational programs, and much more.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.