Colorado House passes bill requring hospital infection reporting

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Colorado House Passes Bill Requiring Hospital Infection Reporting

Public reporting bill aims to reduce infections by spurring hospitals to improve patient care

DENVER, CO – Under a bill approved by the Colorado House today, hospitals in the state would be required to report how many of their patients acquire certain infections during treatment. HB 1045, sponsored by Representative Bob McCluskey, aims to reduce the number of patients who become sick from infections by making this information public and providing hospitals with an added incentive to improve patient care.
“Sunshine is often the best disinfectant,” said Carrie Curtiss, Policy Director for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “By providing this information, we can improve the safety of our healthcare system, and the public has an opportunity to make the best choice for themselves and their families.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital infections are a leading cause of death in the United States. An estimated 90,000 Americans die each year from hospital infections. Another 1.9 million people nationwide who develop infections endure longer stays in the hospital and sometimes require additional treatments and surgeries that complicate their recovery. Hospital infections add billions of dollars each year to the healthcare bill paid by insurers, consumers, and taxpayers.
“Hospital acquired infections are costing our nation’s healthcare system more than $5 billion annually,” said Representative McCluskey, a Ft. Collins Republican, and co-sponsor of the bill. “We have an opportunity to save our state millions of dollars in unnecessary medical costs while, at the same time, making Colorado a safer place to receive medical care.”
HB 1045 requires Colorado hospitals to collect information on hospital-acquired infection rates and report this data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so that it can be properly risk adjusted. The bill requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to analyze the data submitted by hospitals to the CDC for public disclosure. Beginning on July 31, 2008, the department must submit its first annual hospital-acquired infection report to the state legislature. These annual reports will be available on the department’s web site and will compare infection rates for each individual hospital in the state and highlight trends and findings based on the data collected each year.
The initial July 2008 report will include data on several of the most common types of hospital-acquired infections: cardiac surgical site infections, orthopedic surgical site infections, and central line-related bloodstream infections. The bill establishes an advisory committee of experts to work with the Department of Public Health to recommend additional clinical procedures to the data collected on hospital-acquired infection rates beginning in November 2008.
“Collecting accurate data is the first step towards reducing the impact of these infections upon our healthcare system,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of a project dedicated to stopping hospital infections at Consumers Union. “Once we understand the real scope of this problem, hospitals will be in a better position to identify effective prevention solutions.”
HB 1045 will now move to the Senate for consideration. If enacted, Colorado would become the seventh state in the country to require hospital infection reporting. Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, and New York all have adopted such reporting requirements. Pennsylvania and Florida are the only states that have issued reports based on infection data collected from hospitals.
In Pennsylvania, hospitals reported 13,711 infections in the first nine months of 2005. These infections were associated with 1,456 deaths and 227,000 extra days spent in the hospital. Infections reported in 2004 resulted in an estimated $613.7 million in charges for extra care paid for by private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid.
“Today’s vote was a victory for consumers in Colorado,” said Rex Wilmouth, Executive Director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group.
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The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative is a coalition of over 200 health and advocacy organizations working to increase access to quality, affordable healthcare for all consumers. For information, please visit our website at www.cohealthinitiative.org.
The Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) is an advocate for the public interest whose mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.
Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers. Since 1936, its mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers. For more information on Consumers Union’s hospital infection campaign, visit www.StopHospitalInfections.org

Ben Davis, CCHI: 303-522-6790
Lisa McGiffert, Consumers Union: 512-477-4431, ext 115