Cancer patient asks hospitals for their infection rates

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Seeking safe healthcare for her cancer treatment, patient safety advocate–Kathy Day of Maine–recalls the transparency hurdles she faced when she asked a hospital for its infection rates.

I have learned that although I am a smartie pants patient safety activist, and I know all the correct questions to ask and who to ask, the answers are hard to come by.

[At one hospital] I asked their infection control nurse what the infection rate was for robotic assisted hysterectomies, and all hysterectomies and I was told “well, I know they are below the National average”. Exactly what does that mean? I have no clue. She also said that they are not required to report those numbers to the public, but in a year, they would be doing that. I told her I have cancer now and I need surgery, so that report in a year would do me no good.[emphasis mine]

As potential patients, Kathy’s experience reminds us that we can’t always expect to get the safety information we need but we should tap into all the available resources we can, such as Consumer Reports Health and Why Not The Best.


For more information about Maine patient safety, MRSA, and Kathy’s advocacy work, visit her blog McCleary MRSA Prevention.