Show me the data!

The following post is from Scott Fridkin, MD, about the new public availability of NHSN antibiotic resistance data:

Finally, some NHSN antibiotic resistance (AR) data for easy access to all! 

Use the HAI Antibiotic Resistance Patient-Safety Atlas to get metrics of AR for the U.S., your region, or your state. It’s currently limited to NHSN defined HAIs, and aggregate measures; but it is dynamic and will grow in size and functionality. Hopefully this will help public health, the public, providers, and researchers to improve patient care. 

Given the public health priority of preventing antibiotic resistance in healthcare, even before the National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic Resistance was in place, there was a recognition by CDC that it was imperative to make HAI data reported to CDC more accessible to the public, including the public health community, consumers, the press, and industry partners. In addition, academic researchers could benefit from easier access to generate specific hypotheses to test with more definitive research.

Toward this end, CDC finally has expedited the availability of antibiotic resistance data to allow for more time-sensitive evaluations independent of publishing timelines, to allow diverse approaches to ecologic assessments such as geographic comparisons, and to allow evaluation of subsets of data not previously explored in-depth. This month CDC launched the first version of the HAI Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas:

As CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network has migrated from a sentinel surveillance program to a national performance measurement system, the number of facilities reporting has surpassed 4,000 for acute care hospitals, and 15,000 when including dialysis facilities, long term care, inpatient rehabilitation, and long term acute care. The “events” reported into the system have skyrocketed as well. When you consider that the antibiotic resistance data can include up to four pathogens per infection, there is a huge amount of antibiotic resistance data that rarely sees the light of day. In fact, historically all of the antibiotic resistance data reported to NHSN have been released mostly as peer reviewed papers, with very two-dimensional views of the data. This model provided very limited access to the data, diminished relevance when publication lagged several years behind the reporting year, and limited amounts of data presented given the constraints of the paper-based publication model. Although this first version of the Atlas is fairly limited in one’s ability to create customizable queries, it does allow for temporal and geographic evaluation of trends at a superficial level. For now, the identities of facilities are protected and the data are presented at only the national or state level. However, in future iterations more national customized queries will be possible, and perhaps more granular geographic divisions. For now, I urge anyone to access the maps and query functions and let CDC know how to make the site more useful to your professional endeavors.

Exactly how useful these data will be to the public, press, public health, and most importantly patients – is still uncertain. It is a starting point for improved access, transparency, and innovation to advance antibiotic resistance infection prevention – I hope the users of this Atlas can help us make it better over time.


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