A new JAMA study confirms what we’ve been saying all along: public reporting of hospital infections leads to reduction of infections!

Using CDC data, the JAMA study found that central line associated blood stream infections in the ICU have decreased by 50%. These are encouraging numbers. Almost every state that has passed a disclosure law includes reporting on blood stream infections in the ICU. Increased public awareness has helped put pressure on hospitals to do more to prevent infections. But our work is not done. As the Health Blog points out, “mixed in with more efforts at prevention in hospitals have been stories of missteps such as failures to wash hands.”

The JAMA study omits data from non-ICU or nonhospital populations, “where the majority of the health care-associated MRSA burden is likely to exist.” The CDC estimates that 19,000 people die a year from MRSA and 95,000 patients get serious MRSA infections in the hospital.

And MRSA is not the only killer. The LA Times recently reported on also dangerous “gram-negative” drug-resistant bacteria that are no longer responding to drugs that used to treat them.

Only PA hospitals are required to monitor and report on infections throughout the facility. All hospitals need to get to this point. It’s time to move beyond the ICU and start collecting data on all hospital infections. And government agencies should take the lead on hospital infection reporting.