Connecticut lawmakers send hospital infection bill to Governor’s desk

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May 3, 2006

Connecticut Lawmakers Pass Bill Requiring Hospitals to Report on Patient Infections

Patient Safety Bill Now Goes to Governor for Consideration

Hartford, CT – Hospitals in Connecticut would be required to report how many of their patients develop infections during treatment under a bill approved by the House today. SB 160, sponsored by Senator Christopher Murphy, aims to reduce infections by making this information public and encouraging hospitals to do a better job keeping patients safe. The bill already has been approved by the Senate and now must be signed by Governor M. Jodi Rell to become law.
“It’s time to get hospital infections under control,” said Jean Rexford, Director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety. “Too many patients develop serious infections that could be prevented with better care. State lawmakers have taken an important step to improve patient safety by passing this bill, which we urge the Governor to sign into law.”
An estimated 20,699 to 41,397 people in Connecticut develop one or more infections while being treated at acute care hospitals in the state. Nationally, two million Americans suffer from infections they acquire in the hospital, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospital infections are a leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in 90,000 fatalities every year. Patients who develop infections spend more time in the hospital recovering and sometimes require additional treatments and surgeries that can prolong and complicate their recovery. Approximately five to ten percent of all hospital patients develop infections, which add more than $5 billion to the nation’s healthcare bill each year.
SB 160 requires Connecticut hospitals to report hospital-acquired infections to the Department of Health. The bill adds these infections to the existing list of “adverse events” that hospitals already must report to the department, and will make hospital-specific infection rates available to the public. Under the bill, the first public report in October 1, 2007 would detail the aggregate number of infections reported by hospitals statewide.
By October 1, 2008, the department would be required to issue annual reports that disclose the infection rates for each hospital in the state, adjusted for potential difference in risk factors among hospitals. The report must also include information about the steps hospitals are taking to reduce the incidence of infections.
The initial 2007 report would include data on hospital infections acquired in critical care units, including surgical wound infections, central line bloodstream infections, and ventilator associated pneumonia. The Department of Public Health is authorized to collect and disclose information on additional infections in subsequent reports.
“This bill will not only help to save lives, but also millions of dollars by shining the spotlight on this very serious issue,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign. “Public disclosure of infection rates will serve as a powerful catalyst for improving patient care.”
If the measure is signed into law by Governor Rell, Connecticut will become the ninth state in the country to require hospital infection reporting. Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, 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.
For more information:
Lisa McGiffert – 512-477-4431, ext 115
Jean Rexford – 203 247 5757