Thursday, June 3, 2010
Extreme public reporting
The UK has taken public reporting of HAIs to a new (and absurd) level. The NHS website now publishes weekly counts of hospital-acquired MRSA bloodstream infection and C. difficile cases for every hospital in the country. You can see it here in an excel spreadsheet. Now I happen to think that transparency and accountability are vital concerns, but I also think that publicly reported data should have utility. As a hospital epidemiologist with two decades of experience, I don't know what to make of these data, so how could the average healthcare consumer? Because of the stochastic nature of HAIs, the frequency counts for any given week are useless, not to mention there is no risk adjustment provided. Yet there seems to be an implicit association of these data with quality of care, and this is another example of perception trumping reality in infection control. What's next--Twitter alerts for every new C. diff case in the country?