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Bill to require hospitals to report care-related infections is up for vote

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State lawmakers are scheduled to vote today on legislation to require hospitals in Hawaii to make public reports of health care-associated infections, a key measure in the industry’s move toward improving health care.

House Bill 889 aims to ensure the state is consistent with the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires hospitals report outcomes relating to heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, surgery and health care-associated infections starting next year. Medicare and private insurance payments will be based on these measures.

The legislation would also provide the state Department of Health with access to the information hospitals report so the agency can monitor public health.

"The objective is to be more transparent to consumers and also for there to be accountability for the hospitals in focusing on delivering high-quality care," said Coral Andrews, vice president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that lobbies on behalf of hospitals and nursing facilities.

Health providers would report conditions including surgical site and bloodstream infections acquired at hospitals to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national health care safety network.

"Consumers will have the information so they can make more informed choices, and hospitals will have more of an incentive to try and minimize hospital-acquired infections," said state Rep. Scott Ni­shi­moto. "In places that have instituted reporting, hospitals have done a better job on (reducing health care-associated infections) that are acquired, because they have an incentive to, because it’s made public.

"The procedures that hospitals can put in place is as simple as having people wash their hands."

More than two dozen states have reporting requirements.

"People from our state have dealt with the issue," Ni­shi­moto said. "Someone goes into the hospital and they get some kind of infection there. That’s the kind of information I believe consumers should have."

Data on hospital infections by state can be found at www.hospitalcompare. hhs.gov.

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