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National validation of claims-based surveillance for surgical-site infections (SSIs) following colon surgery and abdominal hysterectomy.
Retrospective cohort study.
US hospitals selected for data validation by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The study included 550 hospitals performing colon surgery and 458 hospitals performing abdominal hysterectomy in federal fiscal year 2013.
We requested 1,200 medical records from hospitals selected for validation as part of the CMS Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting program. For colon surgery, we sampled 60% with a billing code suggestive of SSI during their index admission and/or readmission within 30 days and 40% who were readmitted without one of these codes. For abdominal hysterectomy, we included all patients with an SSI code during their index admission, all patients readmitted within 30 days, and a sample of those with a prolonged surgical admission (length of stay > 7 days). We calculated sensitivity and positive predictive value for the different groups.
We identified 142 colon-surgery SSIs (46 superficial SSIs and 96 deep and organ-space SSIs) and 127 abdominal-hysterectomy SSIs (58 superficial SSIs and 69 deep and organ-space SSIs). Extrapolating to the full CMS data validation cohort, we estimated an SSI rate of 8.3% for colon surgery and 3.0% for abdominal hysterectomy. Our colon-surgery surveillance codes identified 93% of SSIs, with 1 SSI identified for every 2.6 patients reviewed. Our abdominal-hysterectomy surveillance codes identified 73% of SSIs, with 1 SSI identified for every 1.6 patients reviewed.
Using claims to target record review for SSI validation performed well in a national sample.
For 147 hospital-onset bloodstream infections, we assessed the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of the National Healthcare Safety Network surveillance definitions of central-line–associated bloodstream infections against the gold standard of physician review, examining the drivers of discrepancies and related implications for reporting and infection prevention.
The intent of this document is to highlight practical recommendations in a concise format designed to assist acute-care hospitals in implementing and prioritizing their surgical-site infection (SSI) prevention efforts. This document updates the Strategies to Prevent Surgical Site Infections in Acute Care Hospitals published in 2014.1 This expert guidance document is sponsored by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). It is the product of a collaborative effort led by SHEA, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and The Joint Commission, with major contributions from representatives of a number of organizations and societies with content expertise.
In this national survey, we found that individual patient assessments by pharmacists were more common at facilities using centralized prescribing for nirmetralvir-ritonavir (Paxlovid) than decentralized prescribing. Provider discomfort was initially less with centralized prescribing, but later, there was no difference in provider discomfort based on prescribing mechanism.
To estimate the association between in situ steroids and spine surgical-site infections (SSIs), assessing spinal instrumentation as an effect modifier and adjusting for confounders.
Rural academic medical center.
We identified 1,058 adults undergoing posterior fusion and laminectomy procedures as defined by the National Healthcare Safety Network without a pre-existing SSI between January 2020 and December 2021. We identified 26 SSI as cases and randomly selected 104 controls from the remaining patients without SSI.
The primary exposure was the intraoperative administration of methylprednisolone in situ (ie, either in the wound bed or as an epidural injection). The primary outcome was a clinical diagnosis of SSI within 6 months of a patient’s first spine surgery at our facility. We quantified the association between the exposure and outcome using logistic regression, using a product term to assess for effect modification by spinal instrumentation and the change-in-estimate approach to select significant confounders.
Adjusting for Charlson comorbidity index and malignancy, in situ steroids were significantly associated with spine SSI relative to no in situ steroids for instrumented procedures (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 9.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.54–64.0), but they were not associated with spine SSIs among noninstrumented procedures (aOR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.15–4.93).
In situ steroids were significantly associated with spine SSI among instrumented procedures. The benefits of in situ steroids for pain management following spine surgery should be weighed against the risk of SSI, especially for instrumented procedures.
In this survey of 41 hospitals, 18 (72%) of 25 respondents reporting utilization of National Healthcare Safety Network resources demonstrated accurate central-line–associated bloodstream infection reporting compared to 6 (38%) of 16 without utilization (adjusted odds ratio, 5.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.16–24.8). Adherence to standard definitions is essential for consistent reporting across healthcare facilities.
To compare strategies for hospital ranking based on colon surgical-site infection (SSI) rate by combining all colon procedures versus stratifying by surgical approach (ie, laparoscopic vs open).
Retrospective cohort study.
We identified SSIs among Medicare beneficiaries undergoing colon surgery from 2009 through 2013 using previously validated methods. We created a risk prediction model for SSI using age, sex, race, comorbidities, surgical approach (laparoscopy vs open), and concomitant colon and noncolon procedures. Adjusted SSI rates were used to rank hospitals. Subanalyses were performed for common colon procedures and procedure types for which there were both open and laparoscopic procedures. We generated ranks using only open and only laparoscopic procedures, overall and for each subanalysis. Rankings were compared using a Spearman correlation coefficient.
In total, 694,813 colon procedures were identified among 508,135 Medicare beneficiaries. The overall SSI rate was 7.6%. The laparoscopic approach was associated with lower SSI risk (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4–0.5), and higher SSI risk was associated with concomitant abdominal surgeries (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.4–1.5) and higher Elixhauser score (OR, 1.1; 95% CI, 1.0–1.1). Hospital rankings for laparascopic procedures were poorly correlated with rankings for open procedures (r = 0.23).
Hospital rankings based on total colon procedures fail to account for differences in SSI risk from laparoscopic vs open procedures. Stratifying rankings by surgical approach yields a more equitable comparison of surgical performance.
To understand hospital policies and practices as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) conducted a survey through the SHEA Research Network (SRN). The survey assessed policies and practices around the optimization of personal protection equipment (PPE), testing, healthcare personnel policies, visitors of COVID-19 patients in relation to procedures, and types of patients. Overall, 69 individual healthcare facilities responded in the United States and internationally, for a 73% response rate.
To determine whether oral vancomycin prophylaxis accompanying systemic antibiotics reduces the risk of relapse in patients with history of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI).
Retrospective cohort study.
Adult inpatients with a history of CDI who received systemic antibiotics in either of 2 hospitals between January 2009 and June 2015.
We compared relapse rates in patients who started oral vancomycin concurrently with systemic antibiotics (exposed group) versus those who did not. We assessed for CDI relapse by toxin or nucleic acid testing at 90 days. We used inverse probability weighting and machine learning to adjust for confounders, to estimate propensity for treatment, and to calculate odds ratios for CDI relapse. We performed secondary analyses limited to toxin-positive relapses, patients with 1 versus >1 prior CDI episodes, and patients who received oral vancomycin on each antibiotic day.
CDI relapse occurred within 90 days in 19 of 193 exposed patients (9.8%) versus 53 of 567 unexposed patients (9.4%; unadjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60–1.81; adjusted OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.35–1.14). CDI relapses at 90 days were less frequent in exposed patients with only 1 prior episode of CDI (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.19–0.93) but not in those with >1 prior episode (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.42–3.33). Our findings were consistent with a lack of benefit of oral vancomycin when restricting results to toxin-positive relapses and to patients who received vancomycin each antibiotic day.
Prophylactic oral vancomycin was not consistently associated with reduced risk of CDI relapse among hospitalized patients receiving systemic antibiotics. However, patients with only 1 prior CDI episode may benefit.
In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stopped reimbursing for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) not present on admission (POA). We sought to understand why this policy did not impact central line–associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) trends.
Retrospective cohort study.
Acute-care hospitals in the United States.
Fee-for-service Medicare patients discharged January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2011.
Using inpatient Medicare claims data, we analyzed billing practices before and after the HAC policy was implemented, including the use and POA designation of codes for CLABSI or CAUTI. For the 3-year period following policy implementation, we determined the impact on diagnosis-related groups (DRG) determining reimbursement as well as hospital characteristics associated with the reimbursement impact.
During the study period, 65,205,607 Medicare fee-for-service hospitalizations occurred at 3,291 acute-care, nonfederal US hospitals. Based on coding, CLABSI and CAUTI affected 0.23% and 0.06% of these hospitalizations, respectively. In addition, following the HAC policy, 82% of the CLABSI codes and 91% of the CAUTI codes were marked POA, which represented a large increase in the use of this designation. Finally, for the small numbers of CLABSI and CAUTI coded as not POA, financial impacts were detected on only 0.4% of the hospitalizations with a CLABSI code and 5.7% with a CAUTI code.
Part of the reason the HAC policy did not have its intended impact is that billing codes for CLABSI and CAUTI were rarely used, were commonly listed as POA in the postpolicy period, and infrequently impacted hospital reimbursement.
To assess hospital surgical-site infection (SSI) identification and reporting following colon surgery and abdominal hysterectomy via a statewide external validation
Infection preventionists (IPs) from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) performed on-site SSI validation for surgical procedures performed in hospitals that voluntarily participated. Validation involved chart review of SSI cases previously reported by hospitals plus review of patient records flagged for review by claims codes suggestive of SSI. We assessed the sensitivity of traditional surveillance and the added benefit of claims-based surveillance. We also evaluated the positive predictive value of claims-based surveillance (ie, workload efficiency).
Upon validation review, CDPH IPs identified 239 SSIs following colon surgery at 42 hospitals and 76 SSIs following abdominal hysterectomy at 34 hospitals. For colon surgery, traditional surveillance had a sensitivity of 50% (47% for deep incisional or organ/space [DI/OS] SSI), compared to 84% (88% for DI/OS SSI) for claims-based surveillance. For abdominal hysterectomy, traditional surveillance had a sensitivity of 68% (67% for DI/OS SSI) compared to 74% (78% for DI/OS SSI) for claims-based surveillance. Claims-based surveillance was also efficient, with 1 SSI identified for every 2 patients flagged for review who had undergone abdominal hysterectomy and for every 2.6 patients flagged for review who had undergone colon surgery. Overall, CDPH identified previously unreported SSIs in 74% of validation hospitals performing colon surgery and 35% of validation hospitals performing abdominal hysterectomy.
Claims-based surveillance is a standardized approach that hospitals can use to augment traditional surveillance methods and health departments can use for external validation.
In October 2008, Medicare ceased additional payment for hospital-acquired conditions not present on admission. We evaluated the policy’s differential impact in hospitals with high vs low operating margins. Medicare’s payment policy may have had an impact on reducing central line–associated bloodstream infections in hospitals with low operating margins.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;37(1):100–103
The 2008 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hospital-acquired conditions policy limited additional payment for conditions deemed reasonably preventable.
To examine whether this policy was associated with decreases in billing rates for 2 targeted conditions, vascular catheter-associated infections (VCAI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI).
Adult Medicare patients admitted to 569 acute care hospitals in California, Massachusetts, or New York and subject to the policy.
We used an interrupted times series design to assess whether the hospital-acquired conditions policy was associated with changes in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI.
Before the policy, billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI were increasing (prepolicy odds ratio per quarter for VCAI, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.11–1.23]; for CAUTI, 1.19 [1.16–1.23]). The policy was associated with an immediate drop in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI (odds ratio for change at policy implementation for VCAI, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.69–0.81]; for CAUTI, 0.87 [0.79–0.96]). In the postpolicy period, we observed a decreasing trend in the billing rate for VCAI and a leveling-off in the billing rate for CAUTI (postpolicy odds ratio per quarter for VCAI, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.97–0.99]; for CAUTI, 0.99 [0.97–1.00]).
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hospital-acquired conditions policy appears to have been associated with immediate reductions in billing rates for VCAI and CAUTI, followed by a slight decreasing trend or leveling-off in rates. These billing rates, however, may not correlate with changes in clinically meaningful patient outcomes and may reflect changes in coding practices.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;36(8):871–877
Policymakers may wish to align healthcare payment and quality of care while minimizing unintended consequences, particularly for safety net hospitals.
To determine whether the 2008 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital-Acquired Conditions policy had a differential impact on targeted healthcare-associated infection rates in safety net compared with non–safety net hospitals.
Interrupted time-series design.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS
Nonfederal acute care hospitals that reported central line–associated bloodstream infection and ventilator-associated pneumonia rates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Safety Network from July 1, 2007, through December 31, 2013.
We did not observe changes in the slope of targeted infection rates in the postpolicy period compared with the prepolicy period for either safety net (postpolicy vs prepolicy ratio, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.84–1.09]) or non–safety net (0.99 [0.90–1.10]) hospitals. Controlling for prepolicy secular trends, we did not detect differences in an immediate change at the time of the policy between safety net and non–safety net hospitals (P for 2-way interaction, .87).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital-Acquired Conditions policy did not have an impact, either positive or negative, on already declining rates of central line–associated bloodstream infection in safety net or non–safety net hospitals. Continued evaluations of the broad impact of payment policies on safety net hospitals will remain important as the use of financial incentives and penalties continues to expand in the United States.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a policy in October 2008 to eliminate additional Medicare payment for mediastinitis following coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
To evaluate the impact of this policy on mediastinitis rates, using Medicare claims and National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) prospective surveillance data.
We used an interrupted time series design to compare mediastinitis rates before and after the policy, adjusted for secular trends. Billing rates came from Medicare inpatient claims following 638,761 CABG procedures in 1,234 US hospitals (January 2006-September 2010). Prospective surveillance rates came from 151 NHSN hospitals in 29 states performing 94,739 CABG procedures (January 2007-September 2010). Logistic regression mixed-effects models estimated trends for mediastinitis rates.
We found a sudden drop in coding for index admission mediastinitis at the time of policy implementation (odds ratio, 0.36 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.23-0.57]) and a decreasing trend in coding for index admission mediastinitis in the postintervention period compared with the preintervention period (ratio of slopes, 0.83 [95% CI, 0.74-0.95]). However, we saw no impact of the policy on infection rates as measured using NHSN data. Our results were not affected by changes in patient risk over time, heterogeneity in hospital demographics, or timing of hospital participation in NHSN.
The CMS policy of withholding additional Medicare payment for mediastinitis on the basis of claims-based evidence of infection was associated with changes in coding for infections but not with changes in actual infection rates during the first 2 years after policy implementation.
Surgical site infection (SSI) surveillance is performed using a variety of methods with unclear performance characteristics. We used claims data to identify records for review following hysterectomy and colorectal surgery. Claims-enhanced screening identified SSIs missed by routine surveillance and could be used for targeted chart review to improve SSI detection.
To assess the ability of Medicare claims to identify US hospitals with high rates of surgical site infection (SSI) after hip arthroplasty.
Retrospective cohort study.
Acute care US hospitals.
Fee-for-service Medicare patients 65 years of age and older who underwent hip arthroplasty in US hospitals from 2005 through 2007.
Hospital rankings were derived from claims codes suggestive of SSI, adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidities, while using generalized linear mixed models to account for hospital volume. Medical records were obtained for validation of infection on a random sample of patients from hospitals ranked in the best and worst deciles of performance. We then calculated the risk-adjusted odds of developing a chart-confirmed SSI after hip arthroplasty in hospitals ranked by claims into worst- versus best-performing deciles.
Among 524,892 eligible Medicare patients who underwent hip arthroplasty at 3,296 US hospitals, a patient who underwent surgery in a hospital ranked in the worst-performing decile based on claims-based evidence of SSI had 2.9-fold higher odds of developing a chart-confirmed SSI relative to a patient with the same age, sex, and comorbidities in a hospital ranked in the best-performing decile (95% confidence interval, 2.2-3.7).
Medicare claims successfully distinguished between hospitals with high and low SSI rates following hip arthroplasty. These claims can identify potential outlier hospitals that merit further evaluation. This strategy can also be used to validate the completeness of public reporting of SSI.