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July 27, 2010

How to Report Hospital Infections

The National Conference of State Legislatures looks at legislation that mandates states report Healthcare-associated infections.

LOUISVILLE , KY.— Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)—also known as hospital-acquired infections—are among the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for 99,000 deaths annually.

HAI is an infection patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions in a healthcare facility. They affect patients, health care systems and society by increasing the cost of treating infections and causing greater disability and death. Since 2005, the number of states with laws requiring health care facilities to report HAIs has grown from six to 27.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has released its report “State Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated infections: Lessons from the Pioneers.”  This NCSL report offers an in-depth analysis of nine of those state HAI public reporting laws and gathers information about the challenges, successes and “lessons learned” from states that have pioneered public reporting. This report was handed out at the 36th annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky., with support from the Extending the Cure project.

“Legislators are always considering how to enhance the quality of life for the state’s citizens while efficiently, effectively and frugally using taxpayer money, especially during the current economic environment,” said Representative Peggy Welch, chair of the NCSL health committee. “In the light of these objectives, federal and state legislators have been focusing on health care-associated infections (HAIs) that create pain and suffering for citizens while unnecessarily spending public funds.”

At the heart of public reporting is the belief that promoting transparency will improve quality of care, expand and improve infection prevention measures, reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with HAIs, and cut costs. Setting up a reporting program is complex and time-consuming, however, and a successful program must have skilled staff and adequate, sustainable financing. NCSL’s report shows how states are working through the challenges of establishing meaningful, effective initiatives.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) authorized $50 million in funding for states to engage in HAI planning and other activities, including public reporting. Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico received grants.

The report, “State Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated infections: Lessons from the Pioneers,” is free and available online to members of the media. For further questions, please contact our communications division.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.