Kentucky needs system to track hospital infections, doctor says

Kentucky is in need of a single, accurate system that tracks hospital-acquired infections in order to improve health care and receive state and federal funding, an op-ed piece in The Courier-Journal contends. (Hospitals call these “healthcare-associated infections,” keeping the HAI acronym but spreading the blame. –Editor)

“The need for accurate data cannot be overstated,” writes Dr. Kevin Kavanagh of Somerset. “Data on infections is vital to address epidemics, to direct research, to develop antibiotics and for the state to receive grants and devise prevention protocols.”
But Kentucky’s reporting system is “duplicative and broken,” Kavanagh contends, with no standardized system. “Facilities can make the same report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the [state] health department and to the hospital’s Patient Safety Organization,” he said. Though HAIs should be reported in Kentucky, only four outbreaks were conveyed by hospitals last year. “As of December, the definition of an ‘outbreak’ was not agreed upon, which makes data collection and grant funding difficult,” Kavanagh writes.
To combat the problem, 22 states are using The National Healthcare Safety Network run for free by the CDC to collect their data, which Kavanagh advises. He also encourages transparency and commended Norton Healthcare for posting information about treatment of catheter- and ventilator-associated infections. Because of this transparency, the provider received an award from the National Quality Forum. But “the problem of hospital-acquired infections and conditions is too big, too important and has gone on far too long to depend solely upon hospitals to correct the problem,” Kavanagh argues. (Read more)
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