July 2015 Newsletter

Hospitals are thought to be sterile, safe environments where sick people get better, not sicker. But that's not always the case, according to a new investigation by Consumer Reports into hospital-acquired infections. Consumer Reports has expanded its hospital Ratings and, for the first time, includes information about two common and deadly infections: MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C. diff (Clostridium difficile).


The latest hospital Ratings are included in the report, "How Your Hospital Can Make You Sick." This is the second piece in a three-part investigative series focused on America's antibiotic crisis. The introductory article explained how the overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to the rise of superbugs. The final installment will examine the role antibiotics play in the U.S. meat supply.

To develop Ratings for MRSA and C. diff, the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center analyzed information hospitals reported to the CDC. The MRSA and C. diff Ratings are now part of Consumer Reports' hospital Ratings, which also include central-line associated blood stream infections, surgical-site infections, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. These scores, in addition to the new data for MRSA and C. diff, make up a larger composite infection score for individual hospitals.


Consumer Reports' Ratings reflect how hospitals performed in a snapshot of time, based on data hospitals reported to the CDC between October 2013 and September 2014, the most recent public data available. The data are updated quarterly.

We hope this piece will serve as a call to action to hospitals to do their part to help address the antibiotics crisis and stop their misuse and overuse, as well as provide guidance for hospitals and patients to avoid antibiotic-resistant infections.

Consumer Reports is committed to helping wipe out "superbug" infections through a coordinated effort of our organization's broad resources and channels.  You can follow the conversation on Twitter at #SlamSuperbugs. And let us know if you have ideas for playing a part in this initiative


Tara Montgomery
Senior Director, Health Impact

We're urging Subway to fight superbugs
Antibiotics in meat production is a major factor in the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. With the amount of meat and chicken they buy every day, fast food and other chain restaurants could put real pressure on meat suppliers to stop the practice. Some, such as Chipotle, McDonald's, and Panera Bread, have already taken steps in that direction. Now Consumer Reports is urging Subway, the largest fast food chain in the world, to get on board. Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has joined with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and nearly 60 other medical public health, environmental, and animal welfare groups in sending a letter to Subway executives asking that the company make the switch to using meat and poultry with no antibiotics.
CR supporting regional antibiotics efforts
Consumer Reports is partnering with seven Choosing Wisely grant initiatives around the country in an effort to decrease needless use of antibiotics for viral infections. The grantees -- each of which includes a regional health collaborative, two health systems, and a medical specialty society or association -- intend to decrease this misuse by 20 percent over the three-year grant period. Key ways in which Consumer Reports will support the grantees in these efforts: patient-facing brochures, posters,  public service announcements advising patients to ask their health care provider questions before taking any antibiotics, and speaking engagements. 

Preventing Overdiagnosis: registration open
Planning to attend the third Preventing Overdiagnosis conference? It will be held September 1-3 in Bethesda, Maryland, and this year is hosted by the National Cancer Institute.  Consumer Reports is a conference sponsor. Register here.

MHQP asks patients how to provide
patient-centered care
In 2012, the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center collaborated with Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) to publish a special edition of Consumer Reports featuring Massachusetts statewide Patient Experience Survey Ratings. In June 2015, MHQP released refreshed results from its latest statewide patient experience survey of patients' experiences with their primary care provider for adults and children. The updated results include information on more than 500 Massachusetts primary care offices, across all regions of the state, with three or more physicians. Unlike surveys that rate "patient satisfaction," the survey asks patients to report on their experiences in key aspects of care that are tied to important clinical outcomes. View the most recent data online at www.healthcarecompassma.org, where you can search and compare to find the best primary care for you and your family.

Our newest Health Impact partners
National CooperativeRx is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative made up of employers and coalitions. Together, its member-owners leverage their collective purchasing power to select a Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM) chosen via a competitive bid process. The goal is high quality, cost-effective pharmacy benefits management with honest, transparent pricing.

Iowa Health Buyers Alliance is an association of health care consumers and purchasers working together for better health, better health care and better value. It supports a patient-centered health system, improved care quality, wellness and increased transparency and public disclosure. Its members include public and private employers, labor organizations and consumer groups. 

Lehigh Valley Business Coalition on Healthcare is a non-profit employer alliance focused on access to quality and affordable healthcare. Founded in 1980, LVBCH membership comprises more than 150 employers ranging in size from those with less than 100 employees to those with several thousand employees. In addition, about 30 associate members represent hospitals, health plans, other healthcare providers, pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, benefit consultants and brokers. 

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In the news


CMAJ Journal: Choosing Wisely Around the World. More medical organizations are encouraging discussions about overuse.

Bustle: Some Antidepressants are Linked to Birth Defects, According to a new Study. Includes a link to CR resources.