Objectives: To measure infection rates in a regional cohort of long-term-care facilities (LTCFs) using standard surveillance methods and to analyze different methods for interfacility comparisons.
Setting: Seventeen LTCFs in Idaho.
Design: Prospective, active surveillance for LTCF-acquired infections using standard definitions and case-finding methods was conducted from July 2001 to June 2002. All surveillance data were combined and individual facility performance was compared with the aggregate employing a variety of statistical and graphic methods.
Results: The surveillance data set consisted of 472,019 resident-days of care with 1717 total infections for a pooled mean rate of 3.64 infections per 1000 resident-days. Specific infections included respiratory (828; rate, 1.75), skin and soft tissue (520; rate, 1.10), urinary tract (282; rate, 0.60), gastrointestinal (77; rate, 0.16), unexplained febrile illnesses (6; rate, 0.01), and bloodstream (4; rate, 0.01). Initially, methods adopted from the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System were used comparing individual rates with pooled means and percentiles of distribution. A more sensitive method appeared to be detecting statistically significant deviations (based on chi-square analysis) of the individual facility rates from the aggregate of all other facilities. One promising method employed statistical process control charts (U charts) adjusted to compare individual rates with aggregate monthly rates, providing simultaneous visual and statistical comparisons. Small multiples graphs were useful in providing images valid for rapid concurrent comparison of all facilities.
Conclusion: Interfacility comparisons have been demonstrated to be valuable for hospital infection control programs, but have not been studied extensively in LTCFs.