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Improving the Understanding of Publicly Reported Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) Data

  • Max Masnick (a1), Daniel J. Morgan (a2), Mark D. Macek (a3), John D. Sorkin (a4), Jessica P. Brown (a1), Penny Rheingans (a5) and Anthony D. Harris (a1)...



Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) data are reported to the public on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. We previously found that public understanding of these data is poor. Our objective was to develop an improved method for presenting HAI data that could be used on the CMS website.


Randomized controlled trial comparing understanding of data presented using the current CMS presentation strategy versus a new strategy.


A 760-bed tertiary referral hospital.


A total of 61 patients were randomly selected within 24 hours of admission.


Participants were shown HAI data as presented on the CMS Hospital Compare website (control arm) or data formatted using a new method (experimental arm).


No statistically significant demographic differences were identified between study arms. Although 47% percent of participants said a website for comparing hospitals would have been helpful, only 10% had ever used such a website. Participants viewing data using the new presentation strategy compared hospitals correctly 56% of the time, compared with 32% in the control arm (P=.0002).


Understanding of HAI data increased significantly with the new data presentation method compared to the method currently used on the CMS Hospital Compare website. Many participants expressed interest in a website for comparing hospitals. Improved methods for presenting CMS HAI data, such as the one assessed here, should be adopted to increase public understanding.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2016;1–6


Corresponding author

Address correspondence to Max Masnick, 10 S. Pine Street, MSTF 362A, Baltimore, MD 21201 (


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