Should The Government Require Hospitals To Disclose Infection Rates?

Earlier this month the governor of New Jersey signed into law a regulation that requires all hospitals in the state to report MRSA infection rates (that’s the drug-resistant staph infection you always hear about). And last week, a sate-appointed panel in Massachusetts recommended that laws be passed requiring all hospitals to publicly report infection rates. Should the government regulate hospitals in this manner? And if your state doesn’t require it, is there any way you can find out on your own?

New Jersey joins 20 other states that require hospitals to publicly report infection rates in one form or another, according to the advocacy group StopHospitalInfections.org. They also reported last week that new Medicare regulations have been passed that allowing Medicare to withhold payments to hospitals that infect patients. Visit their site to find out what’s going on in your state and how you can help.

Earlier this year, we pointed out an online resource to compare hospitals, but even if you can’t find out much info on your own, The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina suggests you take the following steps to reduce your risk: ask lots of questions (it forces care providers to mentally walk through the proper steps), and pay attention to how your providers are dressed–neckties, long hair and jewelry are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Resources:
Report of current status of legislation on a state-by-state basis (pdf)
StopHospitalInfections.org

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. GrumpyMD says:

    It’s meaningless to post the infection rate, as patients come in from the community with MRSA all the time. The NOSOCOMIAL infection rate might be of some interest to patients, as that has direct bearing on the staff’s dedication to infection control and sanitary practices. This is likely another way insurances are trying to limit payments to hospitals.

  2. timmus says:

    Screw infection rates… I want disclosure of malpractice rates.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If any institutions are going to be scrutinized for infection rates, it should be nursing homes, absolute cesspools.

  4. wring says:

    uh, isn’t it common knowledge that hospitals are generally filled with infectious diseases?

  5. Smashville says:

    Everytime I go to the hospital, it’s full of sick people. I think they
    should show these stats so I can go to the “well people” hospital.

  6. acambras says:

    @Smashville:

    I’ve seen pediatricians’ offices with 2 waiting rooms — one for sick children and one for well children.

  7. synergy says:

    I work in a medical school connected to a hospital. I go over to their cafeteria to have somewhere to sit and eat my lunch from home and you wouldn’t believe the number of doctors and nurses come in there with their scrubs. On one hand they’re bringing gawd knows what to a place where we eat and on the other hand they’re probably transporting our germs to people who’re already ill. It’s disgusting.