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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dis-Infecting Hospitals: A Role for Citizens

State Senator Richard T. Moore, the chairman of the Massachusetts legislature’ Health Care Financing Committee, filed legislation yesterday that eventually would require health officials to make public the infection rates for individual hospitals. State health officials said public disclosure probably would be part of any new reporting requirements placed on hospitals. Sen. Moore said public reporting will give hospitals added incentive to improve their infection rates.

Hospitals can indeed greatly cut their infection rates. Last month, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center president Paul Levy posted his hospital's rates for central line-related infections, in part to spur other hospitals to be more transparent about their quality of care. Bacteria on the tubing can flow quickly through the bloodstream and to major organs, making these infections of particular concern. BIDMC staff have cut the central line infection rate in half from its rate of 3 central line infections per 1,000 patient days a year and a half ago.

Advice: Tell your friends in Massachusetts to support this bill.

Read a patient's story, or read more on this from Liz Kowalczyk's article in today's Boston Globe.