California Hospitals To Disclose Infection Info
Californians will have more information about the safety of their local hospitals as of Jan 3, when individual California medical centers must disclose to the public the rates at which patients acquire infections under their care.
The law requiring the disclosure of this information, adopted in 2008, was nicknamed “Nile’s Law” after a 15-year-old boy who died from an infection at an Orange County hospital in 2006.
An estimated 13,500 Californians die from such infections each year.
The California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting just published an extensive report on this issue.
“The state has long lagged behind other states in disclosing publicly—hospital by hospital—the rates of certain infections that patients acquire during treatment,” the report states. “Many other states have also embraced simple checklist procedures that produced dramatic declines in the incidences of hospital-acquired infections.”
At least 27 states require hospital-by-hospital disclosure of data related to hospital-acquired infections.
California is behind the curve, critics say, and that creates danger for patients. Some accuse the state health care system of dragging its feet.
State health officials, however, blame budget cuts, staff furloughs and the unwillingness of many hospitals to quickly report data that will expose mistakes.
“Too often, the sophisticated machinery is defeated by sloppy practices and workers stretched beyond their limits while caring for the sickest patients,” the report says. “Unwashed hands and unsterile equipment are among the leading transmissors of infection.”
The data reported by hospitals, however, will not show how many patients die from such infections – only those who get sick.
The data also won’t include cases of infection that resulted from surgery. That information will go public in 2012.