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Hospital group blocks infection reporting bill in Washington state

February 24, 2006


House-Passed Hospital Infection Reporting Bill Supported by Governor
Dies in Senate Health Committee

OLYMPIA, WA – A bill that would have required hospitals to report to the state information about the infections their patients get during treatment was defeated in the Senate Health Committee today. HB 1015, sponsored by Representative Tom Campbell, was approved by the House earlier this year and is supported by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. Despite this support, the measure was blocked in committee following an intense lobbying effort by the Washington State Hospital Association, which has opposed efforts to make hospital infection data available to the public.
“We are extremely disappointed that the state hospital association has succeeded in keeping Washington residents in the dark about this very serious public health problem,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections Project (www.StopHospitalInfections.org). “Hospital infections are a leading cause of death and the U.S. and the public has a right to know which hospitals are failing to keep patients safe. This legislation would have improved patient care by giving hospitals a strong incentive to improve their infection control efforts.”
While statistics for Washington are not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 90,000 Americans die each year from these infections. Another 1.9 million people nationwide who develop such infections endure longer stays in the hospital recovering and getting treated. Approximately five to ten percent of all hospital patients develop infections, which add nearly $5 billion to the nation’s healthcare bill each year.
Many infections could be prevented if hospitals did a better job following proven infection control practices, like hand washing, and adopted the use of clinically proven prevention strategies. Unfortunately, many hospitals have not made infection prevention a priority. According to the National Quality Forum, studies have shown that hand washing compliance rates are generally less than 50 percent.
HB 1015 requires the Department of Health to collect data on hospital acquired infection rates from each hospital in the state. Under the bill, the agency would be required to publish a report on its web site that compares the data it has collected from each hospital.
Six states have adopted laws requiring hospitals to disclose information about infections to the public. In 2002, Illinois became the first state to pass such a law. Since that time, the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council approved a plan for infection rate reporting and Florida, Missouri, New York, and Virginia adopted disclosure laws. Pennsylvania and Florida are the only states that have issued reports based on infection data collected from hospitals.
For more information on the Pennsylvania report, see:
http://www.phc4.org/reports/researchbriefs/071205/default.htm and http://www.phc4.org/reports/researchbriefs/111705/default.htm.
For more information on the Florida report, see: http://www.floridacomparecare.gov/(yz0pilar0ist3o551nq3xu55)/Default.aspx
Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections project is working to enact public disclosure laws so that consumers can select the safest hospitals and competition among hospitals will force the worst to improve. More information about hospital acquired infections and Consumers Union’s campaign can be found at: www.StopHospitalInfections.org.
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Lisa McGiffert: 512-477-4431, ext. 115