Benchmarking of surveillance data for health-care-associated infection (HCAI) has been used for more than three decades to inform prevention strategies and improve patients' safety. In recent years, public reporting of HCAI indicators has been mandated in several countries because of an increasing demand for transparency, although many methodological issues surrounding benchmarking remain unresolved and are highly debated. In this Review, we describe developments in benchmarking and public reporting of HCAI indicators in England, France, Germany, and the USA. Although benchmarking networks in these countries are derived from a common model and use similar methods, approaches to public reporting have been more diverse. The USA and England have predominantly focused on reporting of infection rates, whereas France has put emphasis on process and structure indicators. In Germany, HCAI indicators of individual institutions are treated confidentially and are not disseminated publicly. Although evidence for a direct effect of public reporting of indicators alone on incidence of HCAIs is weak at present, it has been associated with substantial organisational change. An opportunity now exists to learn from the different strategies that have been adopted.
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