Bill Would Require Hospitals to Publicize Infection Rates

How effective your hospital manages infection rates could soon be at your fingertips. A bill on it's way to the Texas Senate would require hospitals to disclose those rates to the public.

90,000 people die every year in the U.S. from infections, while in hospital care - at facilities like Northwest and BSA. This bill is designed to help bring that number down.

Right now hospitals are not required to report infections to any regulatory agency in Texas. If this bill passes, patient infection rates from surgery or other procedures must be reported to the state Department of Health. That data would then be made available to Texans online. Those who support the bill say publicizing the information will motivate hospitals to bring about change.

"Many hospitals aren't looking for these infections now, and once they start looking for and identifying them, there will be more incentive to prevent them," says Lisa McGiffert, Director of the Consumer's Union Stop Hospital Infections Campaign.

BSA officials say if the data is presented in a uniform manner and the reports are standardized, they support the idea.

"We think that every piece of info a patient can have before they go into the hospital will only make their experience better.  If it is standard for all hospitals, and easy to compare and access it is a good thing and we support it," says Mary Barlow, spokeswoman for BSA Hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates the cost of treating and caring for patients with infections totals more than $6 billion each year - McGiffert says that money could be better spent.

"It is a huge cost to our health care system, these infections are preventable, so we can save lives and money for other things we need in our healthcare system," says McGiffert.

McGiffert says the bill should come to a vote in the Full Senate this week.