A study in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that audits are vital for ensuring the accuracy of hospital-acquired infection (HAI) data so that hospital HAI rates can be fairly compared. The objective of the study was to validate the accuracy of surgical site infection (SSI) data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) by New York State (NYS) hospitals. NYS Department of Health staff validated the data reported to NHSN by review of a stratified sample of medical records from each of the 176 hospitals. A total of 7,059 surgical charts (6% of the procedures reported by hospitals) were reviewed. The review found that some reported SSIs did not meet the criteria for inclusion in NHSN and were subsequently removed whereas some records indicated missed SSIs not reported to NHSN, or records were not coded for the correct NHSN procedure. Errors were highest for colon data; the NYS colon SSI rate increased by 7.5% as a result of hospital audits. The study concluded that use of administrative data increased the efficiency of identifying problems in hospitals’ SSI surveillance that caused SSIs to be unreported and caused errors in denominator data.
Read full study: Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology