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)