Public reporting of health care-associated surveillance data: recommendations from the healthcare infection control practices advisory committee

Ann Intern Med. 2013 Nov 5;159(9):631-5. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-9-201311050-00011.


Health care-associated infection (HAI) rates are used as measures of a health care facility's quality of patient care. Recently, these outcomes have been used to publicly rank quality efforts and determine facility reimbursement. The value of comparing HAI rates among health care facilities is limited by many factors inherent to HAI surveillance, and incentives that reward low HAI rates can lead to unintended consequences that can compromise medical care surveillance efforts, such as the use of clinical adjudication panels to veto events that meet HAI surveillance definitions.The Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, a federal advisory committee that provides advice and guidance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services about strategies for surveillance, prevention, and control of HAIs, assessed the challenges associated with using HAI surveillance data for external quality reporting, including the unintended consequences of clinician veto and clinical adjudication panels. Discussions with stakeholder liaisons and committee members were then used to formulate recommended standards for the use of HAI surveillance data for external facility assessment to ensure valid comparisons and to provide as level a playing field as possible.The final recommendations advocate for consistent, objective, and independent application of CDC HAI definitions with concomitant validation of HAIs and surveillance processes. The use of clinician veto and adjudication is discouraged.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Hospitals / standards*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / standards*
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Reimbursement, Incentive
  • United States / epidemiology