Did you know the landmark health reform law requires Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals (i.e., most hospitals in the country) to make public their infection rates for certain healthcare-associated infections?
Consumers can use this information to determine whether a hospital is taking appropriate steps to minimize a patient’s chance of acquiring an infection such as staph or MRSA as a result of their hospitalization.
Beginning in January 2011, hospitals are required to report rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in the intensive care and neonatal intensive care units. Other reportable infections include surgical site and ventilator-associated pneumonia infections.
The CDC estimates that about 250,000 central line-associated bloodstream infections occur each year in hospitals, resulting in approximately 130,000 deaths.
The CDC defines healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) as “a localized or systemic condition that (1) results from an adverse reaction to the presence of an infectious agent(s) or its toxin(s), (2) that occurs during a hospital admission, (3) for which there is no evidence the infection was present or incubating at admission, and (4) meets body site-specific criteria.”
These infections include blood infections, staph infections, meningitis, pneumonia, and other infections that can be very serious and even fatal. Beginning in 2012, Medicare payments to hospitals will be tied to how well hospitals perform relative to the new safety standards.
Consumers should avail themselves of this information so they can protect themselves and loved ones from getting sicker during a hospital stay. It’s another tool to protect ourselves and our loved ones against the various risks associated with hospitalization.
Hospital-specific information is available at the Stop BSI website.
More patient safety information relative to the new health care reform law is available on the health reform website.