For Immediate Release:
November 8, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, FL — Some Florida hospitals are doing a much better job at preventing infections than others, judging by a report released today by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA).
The newly-released information is being made public as part of a new website launched by AHCA called Florida Compare Care (http://www.floridacomparecare.gov). The report gives the public a first glance at the problem of hospital-acquired infections in Florida as required by legislation passed in 2004.
“Florida is now on the map as the first state to release hospital-specific information about infections that patients get in hospitals while being treated for something else,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of www.StopHospitalInfections.org, a project of Consumers Union. “The report shows there are significant differences among hospitals’ ability to avoid costly and dangerous hospital-acquired infections. This is exactly the kind of information that consumers want to see when considering where to go for care.”
The only other state to issue a report on hospital-acquired infections so far is Pennsylvania. Last July, the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council published a report on infections identified as hospital-acquired in that state. Although the agency found that hospitals underreported the infections occurring at their facilities, they identified almost 12,000 infections that caused over 1700 deaths in 2004. The estimated charges for these 12,000 infections totaled $2 billion. The agency also asked third party payers about the average cost to treat a patient with an infection – the cost was approximately $29,000, compared to the average cost of $8300 for a patient without an infection.
Hospital-acquired infections are typically spread as a result of inadequate sanitary practices or failure to consistently adhere to infection prevention procedures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2 million patients get infections and 90,000 die as a result nationwide. Many of these infections can be prevented with simple techniques, such as better hand-hygiene and more thorough cleaning of medical instruments. Further, numerous practices have been identified through clinical tests as important prevention measures, such as appropriate administration of antibiotics before and after surgery to reduce surgical site infections and raising the head of the bed of patients on ventilators to prevent pneumonia.
“We hope that these reports will motivate hospitals to improve their infection prevention practices once they see how they compare to other facilities in their state,” said McGiffert. “Our goal is to reduce hospital-acquired infections.”
Consumers Union promotes public disclosure of hospital-acquired infection rates. Currently, six states (Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York and Florida) require hospitals to report infection information to the public. In 2005, the issue of public disclosure was debated in 35 states – Virginia and New York passed public disclosure laws, two states mandated reporting to a state agency without public access, and nine are conducting studies on the subject.
The financial impact of hospital-acquired infections is expansive. The CDC estimates the cost at $5 billion each year. A study published in the October 2003 Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that one of the Florida report’s “patient safety indicators” – infections due to medical care – adds 9.58 days in the hospital at an extra cost of $38,656. The same study found post operative sepsis (also covered in the Florida report) to be the most serious medical injury, increasing the length of a hospital stay by 10.89 days at an additional cost of $57,727.
“These hospital bills are paid by government insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, as well as private insurers,” said McGiffert. “Ultimately, consumers and taxpayers pay the price for these mostly preventable costs.”
Contact: Rafael Ayuso (512) 477-4431, ext. 114
or Lisa McGiffert (512) 477-4431 ext. 115
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers. Since 1936, its mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers. For more information, visit www.stophospitalinfections.org