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CMS gives consumers data on infection rates in hospitals

Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) are among the most serious of all healthcare-associated infections, resulting in thousands of deaths each year and nearly $700 million in added costs to the U.S. healthcare system, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which announced Tuesday it will provide hospital infection rate data to consumers.

CMS said that Hospital Compare will now include data about how often these preventable infections occur in hospital intensive care units across the country. This step will hold hospitals accountable for bringing down these rates, saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars each year.

"Including central line-associated bloodstream infections information on Hospital Compare will save lives and cut costs," said acting CMS Administrator MarilynTavenner in a press release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2009, there were about 41,000 CLABSIs in U.S. hospitals. Studies show that up to 25 percent of patients who get a CLABSI will die from the infection. Caring for a patient with a CLABSI adds about $17,000 to a hospitalization. These infections prolong hospitalizations and can cause death.

"Today, consumers are getting access to data provided to hospital leaders and clinicians to monitor progress in reducing CLABSIs," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, in a press release. "This information allows CDC and CMS to highlight prevention and pinpoint where more work is needed on these avoidable infections."

The announcement builds on HHS's efforts to make American healthcare safer. In 2011, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the Partnership for Patients initiative, which seeks to reinvent American healthcare delivery in ways that keep patients from being injured or getting sicker in a care system designed to heal them. CMS has already recruited over 6,000 partners, including more than 3,000 hospitals, in this effort, which aims to reduce preventable harm in hospitals by 40 percent by 2014.

Hospital Compare is one of Medicare's most popular web tools with about one million page views each month. More information about Hospital Compare is online at

[See also: HAI report highlights improvement at Pennsylvania hospitals]

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