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WA hospital acquired infection rates no longer available to the public

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According to a news item in Modern Healthcare Online today, hospital-specific errors in Washington state are no longer being made available to the public, after the state sided with the hospital association in interpreting a 2006 law on quality improvement.

That law expanded the list of mistakes hospitals were required to report to 28 serious, preventable errors outlined by the National Quality Forum. For more than a year, the state has made that data available to the public, revealing serious errors at individual hospitals.

But, under the language of the law, the state should have been reporting those errors in aggregate, according to the Washington State Hospital Association. The intent of the law was “error prevention, rather than finger-pointing,” said Cassie Sauer, spokeswoman for the hospital association. Last month, the state sided with the association and stopped releasing data from individual hospitals.

It’s unclear how the state’s reporting rules will work with the CMS’ new rules on reimbursement for so-called “never events” and other preventable errors, Sauer said. “We’re going to have to figure out how these regulations will work together,” she said.

In April this year, the Washington Senate approved a bill that requires hospitals in the state to disclose the rate at which patients acquire certain infections during treatment. HB 1106, was designed to spur hospitals to improve care and reduce infections. Currently nineteen states require infection reporting, but not all make the information public.

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