Thursday, April 12, 2007
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Senate approved a bill that requires hospitals in the state to disclose the rate at which patients acquire certain infections during treatment. HB 1106, sponsored by Representative Tom Campbell, is designed to spur hospitals to improve care and reduce infections. Hospital infections kill 90,000 Americans every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A similar version of the legislation already has been approved by the Washington House. Campbell expects the House to concur with the Senate-adopted measure before the state legislature adjourns next week. If Governor Christine Gregoire signs the bill into law, Washington will become the fifteenth state to adopt a law that will enable consumers to find out how their local hospital ranks when it comes to infection control.
“Hospital infections are a leading cause of death in the United States even though most of them could be prevented with improved patient care,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections Campaign (www.StopHospitalInfections.org). “Consumers have the right to know whether their local hospital has a good track record when it comes to preventing infections. Making infection rates public will prompt hospitals to do a better job protecting patients and ultimately save money and lives.”
The CDC estimates that one in 20 patients — or approximately two million every year — develop various kinds of infections while being treated in the hospital. Those extra treatments and additional days in the hospital add billions of dollars to the bills paid by insurers, patients, and taxpayers for healthcare. Recent CDC estimates of the cost of hospital acquired infections range from $6 billion to an astounding $27.5 billion each year.
Research has shown that hospitals could reduce infections greatly if proper infection control practices were followed at all times, especially hand washing. But infection control efforts in many hospitals fall short. According to the National Quality Forum, studies show that hand washing compliance rates in hospitals are generally less than 50 percent.
Under HB 1106, Washington hospitals would be required to begin collecting data on certain healthcare–associated infections to report to the state. The law would be phased in so that hospitals would first be required to collect data on central-line associated bloodstream infections in intensive care units (beginning July 1, 2008), then ventilator-associated pneumonia (beginning January 1, 2009), and then surgical site infections for certain procedures (beginning January 1, 2010).
By December 1, 2009, and every December 1 in future years, the Department of Health would be required to publish a report on its web site that compares the healthcare associated infection rates at individual hospitals in the state using the date reported in the previous calendar year.
Over the past three years, 16 states around the country have adopted laws requiring some level of public reporting on patient infections. Fourteen of these states will reveal infection rates for each hospital. So far, Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have produced public reports on their state hospitals’ infection rates.
Pennsylvania has produced the most extensive reports to date based on data submitted by its hospitals. In November 2006, the state revealed that hospitals identified 19,154 patient infections during 2005 and detailed infection rates for each of the state’s 168 hospitals. The mortality rate for patients with a hospital acquired infection was 12.9 percent compared to 2.3 percent for patients without infections. Patients with infections stayed in the hospital 16 more days, on average, than patients without infections. On average, insurers paid nearly $46,000 more for patients with infections than for patients without infections.
More information on the reports produced by Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania can be found at: http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/stophospitalinfections/learn.html
More information on hospital infections can be found at www.StopHospitalInfections.org
Michael McCauley: 415-431-6747, ext 126
Lisa McGiffert: 512-477-4431, ext 115