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California Releases New Report on Hospital Infection Rates


For Immediate Release: Friday, January 6, 2012
Contact: Michael McCauley, or 415-431-6747, ext 126 or Lisa McGiffert,, 512-477-4431, ext 115

California Releases New Report on Hospital Infection Rates

Consumers Union: California is Now Taking the Lead
Among States On Hospital Infection Reporting

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued its annual report today detailing patient infection rates at hospitals across the state. The report publishes the rates for a wide variety of infections at California hospitals and helps to establish California as a leader among states for disclosing such patient safety data, according to Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.

“For years, California has lagged behind other states when it comes to reporting critical hospital infection information to the public,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project ( “But now the state has finally fully implemented its laws and is becoming a national leader by disclosing a broad range of hospital infection rates to the public. California now serves as a model that other states and the federal government should follow to show a more complete picture of debilitating and deadly hospital infections. Today’s report shows that infection rates vary widely among California hospitals and that many hospitals still have a lot of work to do to protect patients from these preventable infections.’

This is the second annual report issued by the state, which is required by “Niles Law,” a 2008 state law that aims to encourage hospitals to improve efforts to prevent infections by publicly disclosing each hospital’s track record. Nile Moss died of a hospital acquired MRSA infection at the age of 15 and his mother, Carole Moss, worked to pass and implement the law. Portions of this report were required by a 2006 law.

Consumers Union noted that the report reflects higher compliance among hospitals when it comes to reporting infection data and that the state has played a role in this improvement.

CDPH is releasing surgical infection data for 2009 and 2010, which the state collected on paper from hospitals across the state. Hospitals submitted infections connected with cardiac, orthopedic and gastrointestinal surgeries, without direction from the department regarding which specific procedures should be included. Thus, this portion of the report does not allow comparisons among hospitals, but is of value in that it shows infections occurring in these general categories. CDPH now requires hospitals to submit data in a standardized manner through the CDC’s National Healthcare safety Network (NHSN), which will help lead to more reliable reports.

Hospitals had sued the state to limit surgical infection reporting but the court ruled against the hospitals and required the state to disclose infection rates for 29 different surgical procedures as originally intended by law.

“California is disclosing infection rates on more surgical procedures than any other state in the country,” said McGiffert. “The state is providing the public with data on infection rates throughout hospitals wards, not just intensive care units like most other states. While this data may not allow for comparisons between hospitals, it still gives consumers important information regarding surgical infection rates at their own hospital.”

McGiffert noted that the report discloses surgical infection rates in a new, more consumer friendly manner that enables the public to click on an interactive map to learn about surgical infection rates at hospitals by region. While the information accessible through this map is based on just three months of data, it represents an important start to making this information available to the public. In the future, this website will include many more hospitals and more types of surgeries.

In addition to surgical infections, the state disclosed data on other infections, including central line associated bloodstream infections, C-Difficile infections, and MRSA and VRE bloodstream infections. Again, California is now in front of other states by disclosing infections that occurred throughout hospitals, rather than just in selected departments like ICUs. CDPH plans on issuing a complete update of its report in July 2012. Subsequent reports on the previous calendar year’s infection rates will be released each July beginning in 2013.