Thursday, April 27, 2006
Columbia, SC — Under a bill approved by the South Carolina Senate today, hospitals in the state would be required to report how many of their patients acquire certain infections during treatment. SB 1318, sponsored by Senator Ralph Anderson, aims to reduce the number of patients who become sick from infections by making this information public and providing hospitals with an added incentive to improve patient care.
“Most people don’t expect to get sicker when they go to the hospital,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign. “But too often, patients develop serious infections that could be prevented with better care.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital infections are a leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 90,000 Americans die each year from hospital infections. Another 1.9 million people nationwide who develop infections endure longer stays in the hospital and sometimes require additional treatments and surgeries that complicate their recovery. Hospital infections add billions of dollars each year to the healthcare bill paid by insurers, consumers, and taxpayers.
Under S. 1318, South Carolina hospitals would be required to submit reports to the Department of Health disclosing the rate at which their patients are acquiring infections. The bill, in its current form, requires hospitals to report on surgical site infections, ventilator assisted pneumonia, central line bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections. These account for approximately 80% of all hospital-acquired infections.
Beginning in 2009, the Department would submit a report to the state legislature analyzing the data it has collected from hospitals. These annual reports must disclose each hospital’s infection rates, adjusted for potential differences in patient risk factors among healthcare facilities. This risk adjustment will enable fair comparisons among hospitals with very different types of patients and addresses the complaints made by some hospitals that their patients are sicker and thus have more infections. The reports will be made available on the Department’s web site with a plain language summary of the data, including a discussion of state hospital infection trends.
“Residents of South Carolina currently have no way of knowing whether their local hospital is doing a good job minimizing infection risks and keeping patients safe,” said McGiffert. “This bill would help consumers make more informed healthcare choices and spur hospitals to work harder to keep infection risks low.”
SB 1318 will now move to the House for consideration. If enacted, South Carolina would become the ninth state in the country to require hospital infection reporting. Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, Virginia, and New York all have adopted such reporting requirements. Pennsylvania and Florida are the only states that have issued reports based on infection data collected from hospitals.
In Pennsylvania, hospitals reported 13,711 infections 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.
Lisa McGiffert – 512-477-4431, ext 115