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Colorado lawmakers OK bill requiring hospital infection reporting

Monday, May 8, 2006

Colorado Lawmakers Pass Bill Requiring Hospitals to Report Patient Infections
Patient Safety Bill Now Goes to Governor Owens for Consideration
DENVER, CO – Coloradans will be able to find out whether their local hospital is doing a good job fighting patient infections if Governor Bill Owens signs into law a bill passed by state lawmakers. HB 1045, sponsored by Representative Bob McCluskey and Senator Moe Keller, requires hospitals to report how many of their patients acquire certain infections during treatment. If enacted, Colorado would become the ninth state in the country to require hospitals to publicly disclose patient infection rates.

“State lawmakers have taken an important step to improve patient care by passing legislation to require hospital infection reporting,” Carrie Curtiss, Policy Director for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “We urge Governor Owens to sign this bill into law because it will help spur hospitals to do all they can to reduce infections and keep patients safe.”

Two million Americans suffer from infections they acquire in the hospital every year and 90,000 of those patients die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Patients that develop infections spend more time in the hospital recovering and sometimes require additional treatments and surgeries that can prolong and complicate their recovery. Hospital infections add more than $5 billion to the nation’s health care bill each year.

HB 1045 requires Colorado hospitals to collect information on hospital-acquired infection rates and report this data to the CDC so that it can be properly risk adjusted. The bill requires the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to analyze the data submitted by hospitals to the CDC for public disclosure. Beginning on July 31, 2008, the department must submit its first annual hospital-acquired infection report to the state legislature. These annual reports will be available on the department’s web site and will compare infection rates for each individual hospital in the state and highlight trends and findings based on the data collected each year.

The initial July 2008 report will include data on several of the most common types of hospital-acquired infections: cardiac surgical site infections, orthopedic surgical site infections, and central line-related bloodstream infections. The bill establishes an advisory committee of experts to work with the Department of Public Health to recommend additional clinical procedures to the data collected on hospital-acquired infection rates beginning in November 2008.

“Residents of Colorado currently have no way of knowing whether their local hospital is doing a good job minimizing infection risks and keeping patients safe,” said Rex Wilmouth, Director of COPIRG. “This bill would help consumers make more informed health care choices and spur hospitals to work harder to keep infection risks low.”

Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Vermont, Virginia, and New York all have adopted hospital infection reporting requirements. Lawmakers in Connecticut and New Hampshire recently approved hospital infection reporting bills, which are now under consideration by each state’s governor. Similar legislation is nearing final passage in the South Carolina state legislature.

Pennsylvania and Florida are the only states that have issued reports based on infection data collected from hospitals. Vermont is expected to issue its first report this summer.

In Pennsylvania, hospitals reported 13,711 infections in the first nine months of 2005. These infections were associated with 1,456 deaths and 227,000 extra days spent in the hospital. Infections reported in 2004 resulted in an estimated $613.7 million in charges for extra care paid for by private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council estimates that patients that acquire infections pay seven times more for their treatment than those without infections.

“Hospital infections exact a staggering cost in lives and dollars,” said Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign. “Representative McCluskey and Senator Keller should be applauded for their tireless work to pass this legislation and shine the spotlight on this very serious patient safety issue.”

For more information about this issue, see

Ben Davis, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative: 303-522-6790 (cell)
Rex Wilmouth, COPIRG: 303-573-7474
Lisa McGiffert, Consumers Union: 512-477-4431, ext 115