COLUMBIA – Updated information on healthcare-associated infections is now available online, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities now report the data every six months, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.
“The next full-year report will be published April 15, 2011,” said Jerry J. Gibson, M.D., director of DHEC’s Bureau of Disease Control. “The annual report will compare the risk-adjusted hospital acquired infection rates as required by law.”
Dr. Gibson said the law also requires that every six months the raw data will be made available to the public.
“It is important to note that the six month mid-year reports contain raw data that are preliminary and have not been confirmed,” Dr. Gibson said. “This report is based on six months of information for procedures and central line days and may contain too few procedures or line days to offer a complete picture of infection rates for each hospital. DHEC is continuing to review the processes the hospitals are using to report infections to assure the accuracy and completeness of reporting.”
“We advise people to think carefully how they will use the information,” he said. “It would be unwise to use the six month reports to compare individual hospitals because of the small numbers and lack of verification. Also, keep in mind that some patients have conditions that make them more likely to get infections. A patient’s age, underlying diseases and level of illness all affect their risk for infection. Hospitals that treat patients who have greater risk of infection would be expected to have higher rates.”
According to Dr. Gibson, infections that patients get while they are being treated in hospitals and other healthcare facilities are a major public health problem in the United States.
“Healthcare-Associated Infections, known as HAI’s, are one of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s six winnable battles,” he said. “These healthcare associated infections can be very serious. They can increase both the cost and length of a hospital stay and can even result in death.”
Dr. Gibson said the report should not be used as the only indicator of quality of care at any healthcare facility.
“No single source of information can be used to determine overall quality of care in a hospital,” Dr. Gibson said. “A hospital’s experience with HAI’s is only one thing to consider when choosing a facility. Consider the advice of your physician and the experience of the facilities and surgeons. Any factors that are unique to you should be considered as well.”
Dr. Gibson said concerned citizens can read the information on HAI’s and the definitions of terms on the HAI website to help understand the data reports. Once familiar with the terms, visit the DHEC website at http://www.scdhec.gov/hai to see the “S.C. Hospital Associated Infections Reports.” Hospitals are grouped by general bed size and listed alphabetically, and their reports can be seen by clicking on the name of the hospital.