more states passing laws requiring hospitals to report patient infections

In 2005, a mere six states required HAI (hospital-acquired infection) reporting. Today, 27 states have adopted laws requiring hospitals and nursing homes to report instances of infection involving patients. Pennsylvania was one of the first states to recognize the importance of such reporting and adopted the practice in 2007.

There are a lot of reasons to make a priority out of HAI reporting:

  1. Hospital-acquired infections kill thousands of patients every year.
  2. Many times the product of hospital negligence or oversight, at least one-third of these infections are completely preventable.
  3. Hospital-acquired infections cost hospitals money. It also raises healthcare costs.
  4. Finding a way to lower consumer healthcare costs has been an issue for years across the country.

Most importantly, patient lives will be saved. As an added benefit, healthcare costs will likely come down over time. It’s certainly not the solution, but it could be a big part of it.

With many states just adopting HAI reporting measures, there will certainly be kinks in the system that need to get smoothed out along the way. Since most of these laws are so new, it’s also hard to say whether or not HAI reporting will lower instances of patient infection.

However, as Al Tompkins wrote in his column this month, “France reported that since it started a reporting system for the entire country, HAIs have declined sharply.”

In the United States, according to The Washington Post, “catheter-related bloodstream infections” cause close to 30,000 deaths every year. Another 50,000 patients develop them, but survive.

Hopefully these new laws show a willingness to truly go the distance in preventing numbers like this in the future.

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