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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

SHEA joins suit against California SSI reporting law

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) is joining a lawsuit against the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), arguing that new reporting requirements for surgical site infections (SSIs) could have a “devastating impact on patient care.”

Effective June 1, 2011, the All Facilities Letter issued by the CDPH requires hospitals to collect and report data on 29 different surgical procedures and resulting site infections to CDC’s NHSN, including denominator data for each procedure. The state is requiring SSI reporting through the through the Centers for Disease Control Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).

The CDPH mandate states: “Each health facility shall report quarterly to the department all health-care-associated surgical site infections of deep or organ space surgical sites, health-care-associated infections of orthopedic surgical sites, cardiac surgical sites, and gastrointestinal surgical sites designated as clean and clean-contaminated, and the number of surgeries involving deep or organ space, and orthopedic, cardiac, and gastrointestinal surgeries designated clean and clean-contaminated.”

The California Hospital Association (CHA) filed a lawsuit on Thursday, May 26, 2011 against the CDPH to halt the implementation of the new SSI public reporting requirements

SHEA strongly supports the CHA position and intends to file an amicus brief with the court,” the epidemiology group stated.The amicus brief will outline the significant burden that will be imposed on SHEA members and potentially devastating impact on patient care if the mandate is allowed to stand. … [We have] a well-established and long-standing dedication to working toward the elimination of HAIs and to the important role that public reporting plays in providing high-quality care to patients.”