KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Report Cards, Disclosures Readied Or Deleted On Hospital Infections In Some States

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "After several years of delay, Illinois has begun posting hospital infection data on its 'hospital report card' website, including facilities in the greater St. Louis area. State officials say the website - - will benefit not only the consumer but also the health care industry. … So far, Illinois reports rates for only central line associated bloodstream infections in hospital intensive care units that occurred last year. ... The data include several, though not all, Metro East hospitals, including those in the cities of Alton, Maryville, Belleville and Granite City. The hospitals appear to be performing better than the national average for central line bloodstream infection rates, reporting either one or zero infections for the year 2009. … Under the law, Illinois hospitals are required to report a variety of performance measures and other data to the state, including the central line associated bloodstream infections" (Doyle, 8/13).

Las Vegas Sun: Nevada's state Board of Health discussed last week allowing the public to know where patients are contracting "superbugs" by releasing data. "The discussion centered on proposed regulations stemming from a law passed during the 2009 Legislature. The new law mandates that health care facilities report certain infections, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Nevada State Health Division could then access the information to track infections. But under the proposed rules, those data would not be available to the public, at least in any way that would allow patients to identify the number of infections at any particular medical facility" (Allen, 8/14).

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a separate story: Missouri has purged four years of hospital infection rate data from the state website and other government records. "The deleted material, collected from 2005 through 2008, is too costly to maintain and too sensitive for the public to review for more than a year, state officials say. … Without access to infection data from previous years, consumers won't be able to adequately assess a hospital's performance in preventing infections, consumer advocates say. Specifically, the policy of the Department of Health and Senior Services makes it difficult to review how hospitals have performed over time and whether they perform consistently above or below the national average. … Infections associated with health care kill nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. each year and cost the health system up to $45 billion, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" (Doyle, 8/16).

The Associated Press/The Boston Globe: New Hampshire is releasing its first report of hospital-acquired infections. "The report is being released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. Information is being provided by hospitals across the state. It includes a listing of the types of infections monitored; the rates of each infection by hospital; and recommendations on how to improve the rates" (8/16).

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