NHSN’s Stated Purposes

CDC is increasingly making use of data already available from electronic health records and commercial infection control surveillance systems. The goal is to minimize the time and effort required to collect and enter data, allowing facilities to focus on prevention of HAIs. Working with numerous partners, CDC develops data standards that are available to all information technology vendors to use in their development efforts. In addition, care is taken to harmonize measures to ensure that facilities do not have to duplicate data collection efforts for multiple initiatives and mandates.

Each Facility that Participates in NHSN Agrees to the Following Purposes and Assurance of Confidentiality:

  • Collect data from healthcare facilities in the United States to permit valid estimation of adverse events among patients or residents and healthcare personnel.
  • Collect data from a sample of healthcare facilities in the United States to permit valid estimation of the adherence to practices known to be associated with prevention of these adverse events.
  • Analyze and report collected data to permit recognition of trends at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Provide facilities with risk-adjusted metrics that can be used for inter-facility comparisons and local quality improvement activities.
  • Assist facilities in developing surveillance and analysis methods that permit timely recognition of patient or resident and healthcare worker safety problems and prompt intervention with appropriate measures.
  • Conduct collaborative research studies with NHSN member facilities (e.g., describe the epidemiology of emerging healthcare-associated infections [HAIs] and pathogens, assess the importance of potential risk factors, further characterize HAI pathogens and their mechanisms of resistance, and evaluate alternative surveillance and prevention strategies).
  • Facilitate recruitment of facilities into collaborative evaluations that seek to identify new ways to prevent or control antimicrobial resistance or prevent healthcare-associated infections by providing facility identifiers to federal agencies and peer-reviewed, CDC-approved research projects for potential participation in studies, including comparative effectiveness assessments.
  • Comply with legal requirements – including but not limited to state or federal laws, regulations, or other requirements – for mandatory reporting of facility-specific adverse event, prevention practice adherence, and other public health data.
  • Enable healthcare facilities to report data via NHSN to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in fulfillment of CMS’s quality measurement reporting requirements for those data.
  • Provide patient-level data and annual facility survey data to CMS that are deemed required data in CMS rule-making and that are used by CMS for its program administration, monitoring and evaluation activities, including validation, appeals review, program impact evaluation, and development of quality measure specifications.
  • Provide patient- and healthcare facility-level data, including annual facility survey data, to CMS for use by CMS programs in the design, operations, and evaluation of quality improvement programs in which healthcare facilities participate voluntarily.
  • Provide state and local health departments with information that identifies the facilities in their state that participate in NHSN.
  • Provide to state and local health departments, at their request, facility-specific, NHSN data for surveillance, prevention, or mandatory public reporting.
  • Provide to state or local health departments facility-level information to facilitate HAI prevention efforts (e.g., identifying facilities to target for prevention activities), and provide patient- and healthcare facility-level data to state or local health departments during an outbreak investigation to assist their case-finding or outbreak control.  This does not replace the requirement for facilities to adhere to local and state public health reporting requirements including reporting outbreaks to public health authorities where mandated.

“The voluntarily provided information obtained in this surveillance system that would permit identification of any individual or institution is collected with a guarantee that it will be held in strict confidence, will be used only for the purposes stated, and will not otherwise be disclosed or released without the consent of the individual, or the institution in accordance with Section 304, 306, and 308(d) of the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 242b, 242k, and 242m(d)).”