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Governor Inslee signs bill to strengthen Washington’s hospital infection law


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Governor Inslee Signs Bill to Strengthen Washington’s Hospital Infection Law 

Washington Hospital Association Had Urged the Governor To Veto Key Patient Safety Provision 

OLYMPIA, WA – Governor Jay Inlsee signed HB 1471, a bill that will expand the state’s current hospital infection reporting law.  The Governor’s action is a big victory for consumers since he was under heavy pressure from the Washington Hospital Association and the Department of Health to veto a key patient safety provision of the bill, according to Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

“Governor Inslee deserves credit for standing up to the hospital association and siding with consumers,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project (www.safepatientproject.org).  “This bill will promote greater transparency and help hold hospitals accountable for protecting patients from dangerous and sometimes deadly infections.”

Hospitals have been required to report their infection rates for knee and hip replacement and cardiac surgeries as part of the state’s infection reporting law passed in 2007.  But the Department of Health and the Washington Hospital Association had urged the Governor to veto a provision of HB 1471 that reaffirms this current reporting requirement.

HB 1471 will expand Washington’s law by requiring all hospitals in the state to report their infection rates for central line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) throughout the hospital (now hospitals only report these for intensive care settings).  The new law also adds surgical infections that are now reported to the federal government:  abdominal hysterectomy and colon surgery infections.

When HB 1471 was originally introduced earlier this year, it included a provision supported by the Department of Health and the Washington Hospital Association that would have eliminated reporting on infections associated with hip and knee replacements and heart surgeries.  But Consumers Union and Washington Advocates for Patient Safety succeeded in convincing lawmakers to amend the bill to retain public reporting on these three critical procedures.

The latest Washington report shows significant variation of annual infection rates among hospitals for hip and knee replacements, with rates ranging from zero to nearly one in 20 patients in larger hospitals and rates as high as 14 percent in smaller hospitals.  Heart surgeries show similar variations among the few hospitals that perform them.


Contact:  Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org or 415-902-9537 (cell) or 415-431-6747, ext 126 (office) or Lisa McGiffert – 512-651-2911