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Variations in collecting data on central line infections make comparison of hospitals impossible, say researchers

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6377 (Published 21 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6377
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

Researchers have found huge variability in the way English hospitals collect, record, and report rates of central line infections in seriously ill patients.

They say their findings “sound a warning” about the NHS’s ability to measure safety in healthcare and compare hospitals’ performance on infections accurately.

But they have ruled out “gaming,” or manipulation of data by doctors, as a cause of the differences.

Elaine Maxwell, assistant director of The Health Foundation, which funded the study,1 said that adverse events such as infections were increasingly being used in performance management.

“This study demonstrates that accurate data collection is more complex than may have at first been imagined,” she said.

As well as being used to deliver treatments, central lines provide a route through …

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