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Frequently Asked Questions

About NHSN Protocols


Does the hospital have to submit data in both components of NHSN to be considered active?

No, it is not required to submit data in more than one component. A facility may choose to participate in either the Patient Safety Component or the Healthcare Personnel Safety Component or both.


Where can I find information about the NHSN components?

Information about the basic structure of NHSN can be obtained by viewing the archived web training session titled "Overview of NHSN".


Will we be able to enter patient ID information for our use?

You may enter the patient ID, patient name, social security number and/or secondary ID. The only required fields are the patient ID, gender and date of birth. Keep in mind that whatever patient information you enter is available to CDC, however, all information submitted to CDC is held in strict confidence and will not be disclosed or released without your consent according to the Assurance of Confidentiality.


Can we enter infections on non-ICU wards that are not device-associated UTI or BSI?

Yes, you can readily report any type of healthcare-associated infection for which CDC has a definition. For example, you could track gastroenteritis (GE) on a geriatric ward if you desire, and enter these infections into NHSN. However, since this surveillance does not conform to one of the NHSN Patient Safety modules, you would not indicate this surveillance as part of your Plan and the information would not be aggregated or used by CDC. The data would, however be available for you to analyze using NHSN.


Can we enter data on infections that are not device associated?

Yes. Surgical site infection and post-procedure pneumonia are examples of infections for which NHSN has specific protocols (in the Procedure-associated Module). Other types of infection also can be tracked and entered (e.g., bronchitis not related to a device or procedure). Because these latter infections are not part of one of the NHSN Patient Safety modules, they cannot be included in your Plan and the information will not be aggregated or used by CDC. The data would, however be available for you to analyze using NHSN.


What denominator data are collected for the Patient Safety component (PSC)?

For the Device-associated (DA) module of the PSC, both the number of patient-days and the number of device-days are collected for the location and device being monitored. These data are also referred to as Summary Data. For example, if ventilator-associated pneumonias are monitored in the surgical ICU, then the number of patient-days and ventilator-days are reported for that unit. You will choose the DA infections and locations to be monitored each month.

For the Procedure-associated (PA) module of the PSC, a denominator record is generated for each patient undergoing the operation selected for monitoring during the month.

For the Antibiotic Use and Resistance (AUR) option, in the Microbiology section, the number of isolates of each tested organism is recorded. Additionally, for each organism tested, the number of isolates demonstrating sensitivity (S) intermediate sensitivity (I), resistance (R) or not tested (N) is recorded. These data are collected separately for each ICU, all inpatient non-ICU areas, and all outpatient areas.

In the Pharmacy section of the AUR, the total number of grams or millions of units of each parenteral and oral antimicrobial is recorded for each month. Pharmacy data can be collected for each ICU and/or all inpatient non-ICU areas. Pharmacy data are not collected for outpatient area.


Is patient name a required field?

No. Patient name is only included for the healthcare facility's benefit. It allows a facility to identify individual patients. This information is stored in the database at CDC but not used in any CDC analysis. The only required patient identity fields are Patient ID #, Gender, and Date of Birth.


Contact NHSN:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    National Healthcare Safety Network
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
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