Government oversight failed to track hospital acquired COVID

Dec. 28, 2021

A Kaiser Health Network (KHN) investigation has found hospitals with high rates of COVID patients who didn’t have the diagnosis when they were admitted have rarely been held accountable due to multiple gaps in government oversight, reported in a press release.

According to KHN, a federal reporting system closely tracks hospital-acquired infections for MRSA and other bugs, it doesn’t publicly report COVID caught in individual hospitals.

KHN previously reported that at least 10,000 patients nationwide were diagnosed with COVID in hospitals last year after being admitted for something else — a sure undercount of the infection’s spread inside hospitals, since that data analysis primarily includes Medicare patients 65 and older.

Nationally, 1.7% of Medicare inpatients were documented as having covid diagnosed after being admitted for another condition, according to data from April through September 2020 that hospitals reported to Medicare. CDIMD, a Nashville-based consulting and data analytics company, analyzed the data for KHN.

KHN was able to find federal inspection reports documenting infection-control issues for eight of 38 hospitals they reviewed. The other 30 hospitals around the country, from Alabama to Arizona, had no publicly available federal records of infection-control problems in 2020.

KHN found that even when state inspectors in California assessed hospitals with high rates of COVID diagnosed after admission, they identified few shortcomings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has pledged funding for increased infection-control efforts, but that money is not focused on tracking covid’s spread in hospitals. Instead, it will spend $2.1 billion partly to support an existing tracking system for hospital-acquired pathogens such as MRSA and C. diff.

The CDC does not currently track hospital-acquired COVID, nor does it plan to do so with the additional funding. That tracking is done by another part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director for the CDC’s healthcare-associated infection-prevention programs. But it’s not made public on a hospital-by-hospital basis. HHS officials did not respond to questions.

KHN report 

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