TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals to report to the public certain information regarding infection rates was approved today by the Senate by a vote of 36-0.
“Hospital-borne infections pose a serious threat to senior citizens and patients with compromised immune systems,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “When considering hospital care, patients and their families should have the best information possible, to make informed medical care decisions which benefit their treatment. By reporting infection rates to the public, we’re putting patient care first, and increasing pressure on those facilities which could do more to prevent infections.”
The bill, a Senate Committee Substitute for S-147 and S-919, known as the “Healthcare-Facility-Associated Infection Reporting and Prevention Act,” would require hospitals to make quarterly reports to the State Department of Health and Senior Services regarding infection rates at their facilities. The report would also include infection control procedures being undertaken at the hospital, and specific information about the types of infection reported at the facility, without specifically identifying patients infected. The reported information would then be posted on the Department’s Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/health.
“New Jersey has been a leader in reporting information needed to empower health care consumers in the State,” said Senator Vitale. “We’ve published medical malpractice histories, nursing home information, and prescription drug prices to allow New Jerseyans to make the best choices regarding their healthcare. This bill follows along a long history of medical care transparency and health care consumer protection in the Garden State.”
Senator Vitale noted that healthcare-associated infections are a major public health concern in the nation, affecting between five to ten percent of patients hospitalized each year, and resulting in two million infections and 90,000 deaths. Treatment for hospital-related infections is estimated to cost an additional $4.5 to $5.7 billion annually in health care costs.
Senator Vitale added that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended adopting this legislation as a model for other states to follow, in order to increase patient awareness and focus on infection prevention procedures.
“While there will always be a level of risk in any surgery or hospital visit, we need to do more to decrease that risk for vulnerable patients,” said Senator Vitale. “By informing the public about healthcare-related infection rates, we are bringing the pressure of the marketplace down on those facilities that haven’t done enough to protect their patients. Exposing infection rates to public scrutiny is the first step towards ensuring safer hospitals and healthcare facilities for the people of New Jersey.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.