CR hospital sick

In June, Consumer Reports kicked off a new investigative series into America’s antibiotic crisis with a report examining the alarming rise of superbugs such as MRSA and C-difficile. Now, CR’s newest article hones in on the breeding ground for these deadly bugs–hospitals. Which hospitals are doing their part to curb the spread of these dangerous infections? And which ones are falling short?

The first report of its kind, Consumer Reports has utilized CDC data on C-diff and MRSA infections to develop Ratings for more than 3,000 hospitals across the country. These new Ratings can help us gain a more accurate understanding of how well individual hospitals are faring in the fight to slam superbugs. “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,” CR notes.

Many of the high-performing hospitals–those with lower adjusted rates of C-diff, MRSA, and other hospital acquired infections–have special “antibiotic stewardship” programs, designed to promote responsible use of antibiotics and minimize opportunities for infections to spread inside hospitals. Being able to identify successful hospitals is a great chance to examine their stewardship practices so other health care providers can follow their lead. But Safe Patient Project’s Lisa McGiffert says there’s still much more room for improvement. Wider use of antibiotic stewardship programs, increased accountability and transparency, and mandatory and prompt reporting can pull poor-performing hospitals up from the bottom, and help even the “good” hospitals fill in the gaps.

Consumers Union has been working for over a decade to address issues with hospital infections, and our hard work advocating for public reporting of infections has pushed this cause not only into the public consciousness, but into legal action. Within the last few years, the federal government as well as the majority of states have enacted reporting requirements for hospitals. Our incredible network of activists, many of whom work on hospital infections, have been instrumental in mobilizing a national movement that gives consumers a voice regarding their own safety.

Keep an eye out for CR’s third piece in this series, which will investigate antibiotic use in farm animals. For more information on using antibiotics wisely, visit Consumer Health Choices. Join Consumer Reports’ Safe Patient Project in the fight to slam superbugs by following us on Twitter (use the hashtag #SlamSuperbugs), Facebook, and sharing your story.
–Savannah Wood