April 4, 2007
AUSTIN, TX — Texas hospitals would be required to disclose patient infection rates to the public under a bill passed by the Texas Senate today. SB 288, sponsored by Senator Jane Nelson, is designed to spur hospitals to improve care and reduce infections, which kill 90,000 Americans each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Texans have a right to know whether their local hospital is doing a good job protecting patients from infections risks,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections Campaign (www.StopHospitalInfections.org). “Making infection rates public will improve patient care and 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.
Many hospitals track their own infection rates in intensive care units or neonatal wards where infections are common or patients are particularly susceptible. However, hospitals are not required to report infections to any regulatory agency in Texas. As a result, Texans have no way of knowing whether their local hospital is doing a good job minimizing infection risks and keeping patients safe.
SB 288 requires hospitals to publicly disclose information about certain infections patients get during treatment. The bills follow the recommendations of an interim committee established in 2005 by the state legislature to develop a plan for hospital infection reporting.
Under the proposed legislation, hospitals would be required to disclose rates for surgical site infections for selected operations and blood stream infections associated with central lines. Pediatric hospitals would be required to disclose rates for selected surgical and respiratory infections that can occur more frequently in their facilities. This information would be made available to the public in a report detailing the patient infection rates for each hospital in Texas.
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