Five years ago, only six states required hospitals to report health care-associated infections, the bugs you pick up while in the hospital. But now, 27 states have such laws on the books and others are stepping up.
Increasingly, states are realizing that HAIs, as they are known, cost lives. By one estimate, 99,000 people a year die from these infections, and government reports say at least one-third are preventable. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) authorized $50 million to be spent on helping states get these prevention and reporting programs rolling.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that there is good reason to believe that reporting infections will motivate hospitals to be more careful [PDF]. Significant insurance and tax dollars in Medicare and Medicaid pay for some of the hospital stays:
InfectionControlToday.com points out that while some states now require HAI reporting, data entry is not always as accurate as it should be. Thus, it is important that states follow up with strong audits.
Questions to consider when reporting this story:
- Is your state one of those that is now tracking infections? What do the reports show?
- If your state is not reporting the infections, who is the main opponent?
- Did your state get stimulus money to start programs? How was it spent?
“An estimated 80,000 patients per year develop catheter-related bloodstream infections, or CRBSIs — which can occur when tubes that are inserted into a vein to monitor blood flow or deliver medication and nutrients are improperly prepared or left in longer than necessary. About 30,000 patients die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounting for nearly a third of annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections in the United States.
“Yet evidence suggests hospital workers could all but eliminate CRBSIs by following a five-step checklist that is stunningly basic: (1) Wash hands with soap; (2) clean patient’s skin with an effective antiseptic; (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient; (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown and gloves; (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site.”