March 4, 2004
(Washington, D.C.) – An influential hospital coalition’s protest has delayed and diluted a plan by the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council to require the reporting of hospital infection rate information to Pennsylvania consumers, bringing criticism from consumer groups.
“Pennsylvania is so close to being a national leader in giving consumers the information they need to avoid costly and potentially fatal hospital-acquired infections,” said Ami Gadhia, assistant legislative counsel for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “While the proposal decided upon today by the Council is a step forward, hospitals should be required to report infection rates for all areas of the hospital, not just for certain patients or certain units, and to make this information available to the public.”
The Council met Thursday to decide on the hospital association’s protest to a plan to collect information on infections acquired by patients while in the hospital. The agency’s proposal sought to collect infection rate information for an entire hospital, and to work with health experts to best decide which data to make available to the public. The hospital association succeeded in limiting that plan by requiring hospitals to report immediately only selective information on infection rates for certain types of patients.
Whether or not hospitals are required to report infections in other areas and categories of the hospital will not be decided until 2006. More importantly, there is no date established yet by which this information will be made available to Pennsylvania consumers. “The delay and lack of public disclosure are a disservice to Pennsylvanians and could prove costly both in terms of lives and money,” added Gadhia.
“Making hospital infection rate data available to the public – for all areas of a hospital, not just for certain patients – will allow hospitals to see how they stack up to others in the state, and will move hospitals to be accountable if their infection rates are high,” she said. “Shining a light on hospitals’ success rates in combating this little-known killer will result in safer healthcare for all consumers.”
“The bottom line is that when hospitals compete based on quality of care, lives can be saved, needless suffering can be spared, and patient and insurance expenses can be reduced. A clean and safe hospital is ultimately in the public’s best interest,” Gadhia said.
For more information contact: Ami Gadhia, (202) 441-7661, (202) 462-6262 or Rafael Ayuso, (512) 477-4431, ext. 114