I am printing this story from today's Boston Herald in its entirety. [As above, I have revised this posting to include excerpts, not the whole article.] My quote is accurate. I assume the others are, too. Hey, this is the only way I could get MGH on the record on this blog!
More seriously, a state-sponsored website could be set up for a few thousand dollars. In fact, I will donate the time of our Chief Information Officer to design the site. Hospitals could voluntarily post their data on three or four categories of infections (e.g., ventilator-associated pneumonia, ICU central line infections) along with any explanation they would like. The public could then watch each hospital's progress month to month and year to year.
This is not a game to compare hospitals one to the other: It is a crusade to see how each hospital improves its own processes. So, Valerie, you don't have to have a standard across all hospitals. Sure, that would be an added bonus, but if you wait for that, you will wait for a long, long time. And, Nancy, the internet obviates the need to have a one-size-fits-all standard.
Don't you have enough faith in the public to let them see what they will actually experience in our hospitals?
State eyes hospital infection reports
By Jessica Fargen, Boston Herald Health & Medical Reporter
Wednesday, February 21, 2007 - Updated: 04:01 AM EST
Patients may soon be able to shop for the safest hospitals thanks to a new $1 million public health plan that will make rates of deadly infections at Bay State medical centers readily available to the public for the first time.
The Department of Public Health team, which has enlisted 50 experts and surveyed 73 hospitals so far, expects to make recommendations in June on how to reduce life-threatening in-hospital infections and put in a place a plan to make the rates public, officials said yesterday.
Paul Levy, president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, created a big stir recently when he posted the hospital’s infection rates on his blog and encouraged other hospitals to follow suit without a complicated state mandate.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to try it out voluntarily - see how it goes?” he told the Herald. “My point is these numbers are available in real time. We all keep track of it. All the state has to do is set up a Web site and let us enter our data.”
But public health officials are taking a more measured approach, hiring experts, doing research and surveying hospitals.
“Just the nature of the patients, the case mix of patients means that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem,” said Nancy Ridley, director of the Betsy Lehman Center, which is leading the project with the DPH.
Massachusetts General Hospital spokeswoman Valerie Wencis echoed that concern, saying the hospital won’t post its rates until it’s mandated.
“You have to have a standard across all the hospitals,” she said. “That’s something that needs to be taken into consideration before rates would be put online or made public.”