A new analysis by Consumer Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports, found that California is failing to hold hospitals accountable when they report high patient infection rates.
Some California hospitals with some of the worst infection rates have gone uninspected by the state over the past five years. See the full list by clicking here.
California law requires that hospitals are inspected every three years, but according to data from the California Department of Public Health, over 100 California hospitals have not been inspected in a recent five year period, ending in June 2016.
One of those is Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista.
According to the data, compiled by Consumer Union, the hospital also had a high rate of infection in 2014 and 2015, compared to other California hospitals.
In response, Keith Darcé Scripps Health Public Relations Manager wrote:
“Scripps Health maintains strong infection control programs at all of our hospitals as part of our commitment to the health of our patients. The California Department of Public Health reviewed hospital acquired infection surveillance and prevention practices at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista on two occasions since September 2014.
Over the last year, the hospital has recorded improvements in all hospital acquired infection ratios. For example, the hospital has had a 50-percent decrease in the standardized infection rate for central line blood stream infections in the ICU, and it has had a 72-percent decrease in the standardized infection rate for catheter associated urinary tract infections. Additionally, the hospital has seen a 30-percent decrease in hospital acquired clostridium difficile infections.”
UCSD Medical Center was inspected in the recent five year period, but topped their list of California hospitals when it came to "worst score" - meaning the highest infection rates in the largest number of categories in the last 3 years.
Jacqueline Carr, Assistant Executive Director of Communications with UC San Diego Health sent NBC7 a statement:
“Medical literature highlights that teaching hospitals are expected to experience more infections such as central line associated infections because of the higher acuity of the patient population, higher number of transfers from other community hospitals, and specialized programs such as bone marrow and organ transplantation, complex cancer care, severe burn, and Level 1 trauma care.
UC San Diego Health strives to avoid all preventable infections. It has implemented a number of different national guidelines and process improvement measures to prevent hospital acquired infections. For example, interventions to prevent central line infections include giving patients a daily bath with a special soap, using a special material to protect central lines from becoming contaminated with bacteria, strict focus on maintaining the integrity of the insertion site and removing lines when they are no longer needed by evaluating the need of these lines daily. We have demonstrated progress in reducing our central line associated bloodstream infections as well as other hospital-associated infections, and we are committed to continual improvement efforts to ensure optimal outcomes and the safety of the care we provide our patients."
Additionally, UC San Diego Health has repeatedly participated in outside validations from the California Department Public Health (CDPH) to ensure that we are accurately reporting all health care associated infections. Not all hospitals take this measure. Our voluntary participation in validation shows our commitment to tracking, evaluation and decreasing infection rates."
Over the past four years, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and Consumer Reports has considered UC San Diego’s central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI) performance as either “No different than U.S. National Benchmark” or “Better than U.S. National Benchmark.” At no point in time did CMS consider our CLABSI performance to be “Worse than U.S. National Benchmark.”
NBC 7 reached out to the Department of Health and asked them why they have fallen behind on their hospital inspections.
In response, Corey Engel, Assistant Deputy Director, Office of Public Affairs stated, “We are processing your inquiry from earlier. I will keep you posted of any developments, but I am uncertain I will have the information you requested before your deadline.”