Jessica Fargen, on the Boston Herald blog, reports that the state Public Health Council, the policy board for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, is weighing a set of recommendations that would require every hospital in the state to report certain hospital-acquired infection rates to the public or to a state-sponsored agency. In particular, the public would get to see bloodstream infections associated with central venous catheters in ICU patients; surgical site infections from hip and knee replacements; and rates of influenza vaccination of health care workers.
I have not yet seen the details, and I am a bit unclear about what happens to these recommendations now that they have been presented, but this is clearly a step in the right direction. (For BIDMC, you can already see some of these numbers and lots of other ones, too. We are happy to share our experience in posting these data with any who are interested.)
By the way, when I proposed similar ideas back in February, I was characterized by some of my colleagues as attempting to create a marketing advantage for BIDMC and/or proffering bad information to the public. I hope these recommendations by the PHC will lend credibility to the usefulness of this kind of disclosure and will help eliminate the feeling that we were guided by selfish motives.
Addendum on August 9: Stephen Smith also has a story in today's Globe on this topic. Check out this quote:
Christine Schuster, president of Emerson Hospital in Concord, said that hospitals across the state have already begun to track infection rates internally and that, increasingly, administrators are accepting that they need to make their operation more transparent in order to foster patient trust.
"At first, you might think, 'Oh, my gosh, I don't want to put my numbers up there.' But let's be honest: There's a tsunami coming out there regarding public reporting and transparency," Schuster said. "You can stand on the shore and get washed away, or you can get on board."