TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals to report to the public certain information regarding infection rates was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
“While there is an inherent risk of infection in even the most professional of hospitals, patients should have access to information regarding the rate of infection, to make the best decisions regarding their health care,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “By requiring hospitals to make public their infection rates, we push them to seek a higher standard of safety, and we give patients the necessary information to protect themselves from complications in surgery.”
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.
“In recent years, New Jersey has taken the lead in reporting health care information on the Web,” said Senator Vitale. “New Jerseyans can find a doctor’s malpractice record, compare prices between prescription drugs, and shop for the best health insurance on our State’s Web sites. By providing electronic access for infection information at our State’s hospitals, we’re further empowering health care consumers to make educated decisions regarding their health.”
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.
“In addition to the added cost to the healthcare system, hospital-based infections pose a serious health-related danger, especially to seniors and individuals with compromised immune systems,” said Senator Vitale. “However, these infections are entirely preventable with the appropriate precautions and preparations by hospital staff. By making infection rates public, we’re encouraging hospitals to take the actions needed to cut potentially-fatal infections or risk losing patients.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.