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Hospital infection reporting laws spread across the country

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Hospital Infection Reporting Laws Spread Across the Country

Growing Concern Over Patient Infections Prompting States to Take Action

Every day, an average of nearly 250 people die from infections they pick up in the hospital, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now more states are moving to shine the spotlight on this serious public health problem by requiring hospitals to publicly disclose how many of their patients develop infections during treatment.
Colorado: On May 5, the Colorado legislature approved HB 1045, which requires hospitals to report incidents of hospital-acquired infections to the CDC to be analyzed and risk adjusted. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will use that information to provide facility-specific infection rates to the public. Governor Bill Owens has 30 days to sign the bill into law.
Connecticut: Lawmakers in the state approved SB 160, a bill that requires hospitals to report infections to the Connecticut Department of Health. The department will then make hospital-specific infection rates available to the public. The measure must be approved by Governor M. Jodi Rell to become law.
New Hampshire: On May 3, the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1741, a hospital infection reporting bill previously approved by the House. The bill, which will lead to reports on hospital infection rates, now moves to Governor John Lynch’s desk for his consideration.
South Carolina: On April 27, the South Carolina Senate passed S. 1318, which requires hospitals in the state to disclose the rate at which their patients develop surgical site infections, ventilator assisted pneumonia, central line bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections. The measure is picking up support in the House and stands a good chance of winning passage before the legislature adjourns on June 1.
Alaska: On May 4, the Alaska Legislature adopted a resolution to create a task force to develop recommendations for hospitals to disclose their infection rates, to be presented in the form of legislation in 2007.
Tennessee, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are also still considering hospital infection reporting legislation.
As the first states began publishing reports on hospital-acquired infections, lawmakers in 32 states launched their attacks against this deadly healthcare problem by filing public reporting legislation. At least twelve states are expected to have hospital infection reporting laws in place by the end of the 2006 legislative sessions. Infection reporting requirements have been adopted in eight states so far to raise public awareness and encourage hospitals to work harder to implement effective infection control programs. Another four states are poised to adopt infection reporting bills soon.
“State lawmakers are responding to a problem that frankly the healthcare system has failed to address and for which the public has zero tolerance,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign. “For decades, hospital infections have been hidden from public view with a devastating impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Public disclosure of infection rates will serve as a powerful catalyst for hospitals to institute effective prevention techniques.”
Two million Americans suffer from infections they acquire in the hospital every year and 90,000 of those patients die, according to the CDC. Patients that develop infections spend more time in the hospital recovering and sometimes require additional treatments and surgeries that can prolong and complicate their recovery. The Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council estimates that patients that acquire infections pay seven times more for their treatment than those without infections. The CDC has projected that hospital infections add more than $5 billion to the nation’s healthcare bill each year.
Prior to this year, hospital infection reporting requirements were adopted by six states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and New York. The Maryland General Assembly passed reporting bills in April of this year and a Vermont health agency is implementing a state committee’s recommendations for hospital infection reporting and is expected to issue its first report in June.
Pennsylvania and Florida are the only states that have issued reports so far, based on infection data collected from hospitals. In the most recent Pennsylvania report, hospitals identified 13,711 infections as being acquired in their facilities in the first nine months of 2005. These infections were associated with 1,456 deaths and 227,000 extra days spent in the hospital. Infections reported in 2004 resulted in an estimated $613.7 million in charges for extra care paid for by private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. A copy of the Pennsylvania report is available at: www.phc4.com. The Florida report, which showed significant variations among hospitals is available at:
For more information about this issue and Consumers Union’s campaign, see: www.StopHospitalInfections.org.
Lisa McGiffert – 512-477-4431, ext 115
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126