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Withheld reports of surgical infection puts patients at risk

A new study underscores the demand for public recording regarding the rates of infection occurring as the result of surgeries. Over 8,000 deaths per year are caused by surgical infections and it appears that hospitals are using extreme discretion when disclosing pertinent information regarding the rates of infection. Patients in Connecticut and nationwide are unable to access information about local and national hospital infection rates.

According to a recent report, only 21 states have legislation that requires monitoring and public reporting of surgical infection sites and only 8 of those states require that the information be released to the public. This is problematic because it appears that with poorly performing departments, some hospitals want to prevent records from being released because it could hurt business.

While reporting methods vary state by state and motivations to report can also create different variables in the statistics, it is difficult for consumers to fairly access the information they need to make decisions about where to receive treatment.

Those seeking to protect consumer and public interests suggest that patients be able to compare infection rates, not only within states but across state lines. Consumers should be able to draw their own inferences about quality of care. If health care is supposed to work as a free market, hospital performance as well as the statistics related to patient safety should be made public.

Many experts contend that transparency in the healthcare system could help prevent waste, errors, and prevent the very serious injuries caused by negligence. Making the potential risks to known to consumers could also hold each hospital accountable for failed procedures that result in higher rates of infection.

Source: Forbes, "Lack of National Reporting Mandate for Hospital Infections Hurts Consumers," Georgana Koleva, April 5, 2012

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