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Massachusetts requires hospitals to report infection rates online

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The Massachusetts Public Health Council voted to require hospitals to report rates of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) for an online report card to be posted on a state government Web site, reports Government Health IT. Consumers will not only be able to view the infection rate of their local hospital but compare it with those of other hospitals in the state.

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) will send inspectors into hospitals to ensure they are following required infection-prevention procedures. Hospitals could lose their license if they don’t comply with the rule or if they continue to have high rates of HAIs.

The council’s ruling stems from a study last year that found HAIs cost Massachusetts $473 million annually in additional health care costs.

Hospitals will be required to begin reporting their HAI data to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network July 1. They must also grant access rights to that data to DPH and a state center that will evaluate the data to ensure it is reliable enough for public reporting.

Hospital HAI rates will not only be posted online but will be used in DPH-generated brochures, pamphlets and other communication materials meant to better inform the public.

Currently, 21 states have laws requiring public reporting of infection rates, with South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Vermont publicizing infection rates online.

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