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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 November 2020
Background: The CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) is the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection (HAI) and antibiotic use and resistance (AUR) surveillance system. More than 22,000 healthcare facilities report data to the NHSN. The NHSN data are used by facilities, the CDC, health departments, the CMS, among other organizations and agencies. In 2017, the CDC updated the NHSN Agreement to Participate and Consent (Agreement), completed by facilities, broadening health department access to NHSN data and extending eligibility for data use agreements (DUAs) to local and territorial health departments. DUAs enable access to NHSN data reported by facilities in the health department’s jurisdiction and have been available to state health departments since 2011. The updated agreement also enables the CDC to provide NHSN data to health departments for targeted prevention projects outbreak investigations and responses. Methods: We reviewed the current NHSN DUA inventory to assess the extent to which health departments use the NHSN’s new data access provisions and used semistructured interviews with health department staff, conducted via emails, phone, and in person conversations, to identify and describe their NHSN data uses. Results: As of late 2019, the NHSN has DUAs with health departments in 17 states, 7 local health departments (including municipalities and counties), and 1 US territory. The NHSN also has received requests from 2 state health departments for data supporting HAI prevention projects. Health departments with DUAs described improved relationships with facilities in their jurisdictions because of new opportunities to offer NHSN data analysis assistance to facilities. One local health department analyzed their NHSN carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) data to identify (1) facilities in its jurisdiction with comparatively high CRE infection burden and (2) geographic areas to target for a CRE isolate submission program. Outreach to facilities with high CRE burden led to enrollment of 15 clinical laboratories into a voluntary isolate submission program to analyze CRE isolates for additional characterization. Examples of health departments’ use of data for action include: notifying facilities with high standardized infection ratios (SIRs) and sharing Targeted Assessment for Prevention (TAP) reports. Conclusions: The NHSN’s role as a shared surveillance resource has expanded in multiple public health jurisdictions as a result of new data access provisions. Health departments are using NHSN data in their programmatic responses to HAI and AR challenges. New access to NHSN data is enabling public health jurisdictions to assess problems and opportunities, provide guidance for prevention projects, and support program evaluations.
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