This week the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a state-specific report (not hospital specific) on rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in the ICU as collected by its National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), a monitoring system that looks at hospital infections across the nation. The data is taken from states that require public reporting of CLABSIs, a subset of a subset of hospital acquired infections that many states with public reporting laws using NHSN collect. The CDC has also compiled a list of state plans to reduce hospital-acquired infections over the next five years.

While the CDC is reporting a decrease in central line associated bloodstream infections in ICU patients (18% nationwide), there is still much work to be done to eliminate hospital-acquired infections in our nation’s hospitals.

For one, this report includes only CLABSIs caught in ICUs, which is only one segment of hospital care. In future reports we hope to see data on other common types of infections, such as surgical infections.

Michael E. Bailey left a thoughtful comment about the new report on the CDC’s blog: (our emphasis bolded)

The First State Specific Report is a good baseline for one kind of healthcare associated infection. And it is important that CDC is putting a spotlight on this issue. Now it will be important for hospitals to take specific, concrete steps to reduce these infections in their facilities. These infections must be reduced to the lowest amount possible, eliminated from the hospitals if possible…I think this is one health related infection the report looked at but there are other types of healthcare related infections and they also need a spotlight on them so their incidence can be reduced to the lowest level possible.

Patient safety consumer advocates should be given credit for the data that is presented in this report. For the past six years, Consumers Union has been working with a network of patient advocates in many states to raise awareness and accountability for hospital-acquired infections. This national network of passionate and dedicated advocates (many who have personal experiences with infections) helped pass infection public reporting laws in 27 states, which make the data in this CDC report possible. So far,19 of those states have published reports on infection rates. To see these state reports, go to our website here.