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New Hampshire first hospital infection reports delayed

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A law introduced in New Hampshire in 2006 required New Hampshire hospitals to report to the state for public release their rates for the three most serious hospital-acquired infections.

But two years later, AHIP Hi-Wire reports, the Aug. 1 deadline for the first infection reports to be made public has passed and most hospitals still are not reporting to the state Department of Health and Human Services as required by the new law.

According to Dr. Jose Thier Montero, director of the Division of Public Health, the earliest the hospital infection data is likely to be released is at least 2010 because the funding was cut from the legislation.
The Division of Public Health is working with the New Hampshire Hospital Association on a pilot program instead with five of the state’s 26 hospitals to find the best way to track hospital infections without state funding by using a free Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database.

Montero said the data has to be meaningful, and developing that system will take time. In the meantime, there is simply no way to estimate how many infections occur in New Hampshire hospitals or how many deaths occur as a result, he said.

The American Journal of Infection Control recently reported that New Hampshire has among the worst hospital infection rates in the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nationwide there are 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year. These add an extra $5 billion a year to health care costs, according to the CDC.

For now, the New Hampshire Health Care Quality Assurance Commission, which was created by the Legislature, tracks some hospital infection rates, but only reports the aggregate findings in its annual report.It does not name individual hospitals and does not report to the state.

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