Consumers Union Asks Hospitals To Report Patient Infections
Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, has asked states to require hospitals to make public data on patients who develop infections during their stays, but "medical officials have been reluctant to do so out of concerns over cost and whether publicly releasing the data will fix the problem," the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Recent demand for greater hospital infection reporting has prompted four states -- Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania -- to require hospitals to make such data public, but the states have "fledgling reporting systems, as there is no industry standard," the AP/Sun reports.
In addition, current Web sites that provide hospital infection data to consumers often are limited or difficult for consumers to use, or they do not provide data on specific hospitals, according to Lisa McGiffert, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union. According to CDC, two million health care-related infections occur annually. "It is a problem," McGiffert said, adding, "It affects the lives of 5% to 10% percent of hospital patients, who sometimes suffer debilitating long-term health consequences. We do want to give the system a little bit of a shove to take action."
CDC later this month plans to release recommendations on how states can work with hospitals to make public data on patient infections, with a draft of the guidelines scheduled for release on Tuesday at the meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in Atlanta.
"You want to have data ... so consumers can make decisions but also health care providers can use for improvement," Dr. Denise Cardo, director of the CDC division of health care quality promotion, said.
However, according to hospital officials, the release of data on patient infections might not help address the problem. Nancy Foster of the American Hospital Association said that hospitals would have to validate data on patient infections, which is an expensive and difficult process. "We are very interested in sharing our data with the public to make them safe and to provide a higher quality of care," Foster said, adding, "But how do you do that credibly? We don't need another set of data graveyards" (Yee, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/7).