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The issue: Healthcare-associated infections
Our view: Requiring reporting is appropriate
Under legislation before the Kentucky General Assembly, hospitals and other health-care facilities would be required to document and publicly report the number of infections acquired by patients while in the facility’s care.
The first reaction to Senate Bill 72: Aren’t health-care providers already required to track these statistics?
The plain answer is no.
The Kentucky Hospital Association is resisting legislative intervention claiming the bill will create a duplication of work but it doesn’t appear the state has a reporting mechanism in place. Hospitals are required to track some information for Medicare reimbursements but Sen. Denise Harper Angel is convinced that does not tell the full story.
Sen. Angel, a Louisville Democrat, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, is convinced that transparency would improve health care by alerting patients, visitors and the government to the performance and risk associated with what health professionals often call HAIs or healthcare-associated infections.
Based on overwhelming e-mail that she’s received since filing the bill Jan. 7, Sen. Angel said staph and similar ailments contracted while being treated for other reasons is a disturbing matter of public concern.
“I have had so many responses, and not just from my district, from across the state,” she said. “Everyone wants to tell a story.”
If SB 72 can gain traction in the General Assembly, some of those stories will be told in Frankfort during committee hearings.
Angel encourages anyone with a concern about the issue to contact legislators in hopes of building momentum for the bill.
Not only is this a question of public health and consumer awareness, there’s also a staggering financial impact. The legislation claims the estimated cost of hospital-acquired infections to Kentucky’s health care system is between $392 to $462 million each year. The average of hospitalization cost for each infection is $42,000.
That’s based on an estimated 23,000 infections each year that cause nearly 1,400 deaths.
Pennsylvania and California require universal tracking of these infections. A verifiable report would be required annually beginning in 2012 if the bill passes.
But the legislation is not just about data collection and an annual report. It also requires a formal prevention program aimed at improving numbers, reducing cost and saving lives.
The bill deserves a fair hearing in the General Assembly. While passage could create some record-keeping inconveniences, that does not begin to offset the potential for improvement based on simply knowing the scope of this very real problem.e of this very real problem.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.