State officials are asking hospitals in California to correct their reporting of central-line infections after a review found that 38% of infections were not counted in 2011, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.
The article was produced by the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. The center is supported by a grant from CHCF, which publishes California Healthline (Schoch, San Bernardino County Sun, 8/26).
A 2008 law -- known as "Niles' Law" -- requires all acute care hospitals in California to publicly report certain infections.
Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health released a report which found that central-line infections at California hospitals decreased by 10% last year.
Hospitals in California reported 3,163 cases of central-line infections in 2011, down from 3,519 cases the previous year, according to the report.
However, a review of 100 hospitals by California public health officials found that facilities in 2011 failed to report about one-third of the infections that they should have under state law (California Healthline, 8/10).
The County Sun reports that findings of undercounting have prompted concerns about whether states can accurately count infections given the different reporting standards, varied counting techniques and opportunities for human error.
According to the County Sun, the accuracy of infection data is important because California patients now can select local hospitals based on online ratings that are developed using the same database that is used to record infections in the state.
David Zingmond -- associate professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine -- said, "The 38% is a disappointing number because [hospitals] could have done better." He said the state should repeat work to validate central-line infection reports.
Jan Emerson-Shea, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said that hospitals have welcomed efforts to validate the reporting data. She said, "[W]e have hospitals volunteering to work for the state, opening themselves up, being willing to hear they're not doing it right and getting guidance on how to do it better" (San Bernardino County Sun, 8/26).