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NC hospital infection bill leaves public in the dark

Thursday, April 19, 2007

North Carolina Bill Leaves Public In The Dark About Hospital Infections

Bill Calls For More Study, But Not Public Disclosure of Patient Infections

Legislation introduced today by Representatives Rick Glazier, Martha Alexander, Lucy Allen, and Verla Insko falls short of what’s needed to hold hospitals accountable for preventing patient infections, according to Consumers Union. HB 1738 establishes an advisory commission to develop recommendations for public reporting of hospital infection rates, but provides no guarantee that hospitals will be required to disclose such information.
“It’s time to end the secrecy over patient infections in North Carolina,” 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 is doing a good job preventing infections and keeping patients safe. While we applaud Representative Glazier for his leadership on this issue, his bill unnecessarily delays public reporting of hospital infections.”
Every year, approximately two million patients develop infections while being treated in the hospital and 90,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent CDC estimates of the extra healthcare costs associated with hospital acquired infections range from $6 billion to an astounding $27.5 billion each year.
Unfortunately, most hospitals are not doing enough to prevent infections. According to the National Quality Forum, studies show that hand washing compliance rates in hospitals are generally less than 50 percent. Many infections could be prevented if hospitals followed proven infection control practices — like hand washing — more consistently.
Under HB 1738, North Carolina would establish an advisory commission to make recommendations for “the reporting and public disclosure of hospital-acquired infection incidence rates” to the state legislature in 2009. After the advisory commission submits its recommendation, the state legislature would have to approve a separate bill to establish a reporting requirement. To fairly calculate infection rates, they should be based on 12 months worth of data, which likely would delay the first public report to 2011.
“Instead of providing sunshine, this bill offers more delay,” said McGiffert. “North Carolina should follow the lead of other states, which passed hospital infection reporting requirements and built time into the law to work out some of the implementation details.”
Over the past three years, 14 states around the country have adopted laws requiring public reporting of infection rates., including neighboring South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. So far, Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have produced public reports on their state hospitals’ infection rates.
For more information on hospital infections and state infection reporting laws, see: www.StopHospitalInfections.org
Lisa McGiffert – 512-477-4431, ext 115
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126