HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Disclosure of Hospitals' Infection Rates

From the CDC's Public Health Law News roundup (Feb. 2):

"Some push to make hospitals disclose rates of infection"

The Wall Street Journal     (02/01/05)     Rhonda L. Rundle

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110722521039541957-email,00.html (subscription required)

A movement is underway to require hospitals to publicly report their rates of hospital-acquired infections. An estimated 2 million patients develop hospital infections each year, according to CDC. These infections may account for nearly 90,000 deaths annually. Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, and Missouri are among the states that have recently passed legislation requiring hospitals to compile and publish infection rates, and such legislation is pending in more than 12 other states. But while a number of consumer advocates and patients welcome the trend, some on the front lines of infection control say the situation is much more complicated than the reports indicate. For example, there is no standard method for counting infections, and patients sometimes check out from the hospital before an infection is detected. "This is a much more complicated, technical issue than the average legislator or person understands ... to have a different standard in every state would be very disadvantageous," said Kathy Warye, executive director of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. In an effort to avoid a conflicting mix of rules and definitions, CDC, Consumers Union, the American Hospital Association and other groups will meet in Atlanta next week to discuss the possibility of a national approach to the issue.

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