We have often mentioned on this blog the growing problem of hospital borne infections. These are illnesses that a patient contracts while they are at the hospital to be treated for another medical problem. These infections are almost always the result of medical errors and negligent conduct that can be prevented. Proper hand washing, sterilizations, and other cleanliness protocols have been shown to decrease these infections significantly.
As we reported last week, the problem is estimated to cost medical care consumers over $30 billion each year and take the lives of upwards of 100,000 patients.
Those staggering costs should obviously have translated into a concentrated effort to fix the problem. However, the remedial actions have fallen far short. In fact, even the basic task of compiling and making data available on the total number of these infections has taken years to accomplish.
Illinois has just recently begun the task of informing its citizens on hospital performance with regard to these infections. As reported in St. Louis Today, Illinois officials have finally posted their first hospital “report card” that includes initial data on some hospital generated infection rates. This initial reporting does not include the bulk of infections. Only central line associated bloodstream infection rates are available in the latest report. These are infections caused by catheters that deliver fluid and other medications into the body.
While the initial data is small, the information is clearly a step in the right direction. Any public reporting that shines a spotlight on medical errors is a good development. The Illinois General Assembly sought to address this reporting problem six years ago. However, drafting errors in the legislation and funding errors in later years delayed the implementation of the report until now. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Health insists that even more hospital infection data will become available in the future. She explained, “We are in the process of trying to get some additional data. We’re hoping to have surgical-site infection data by the end of the year.”
Click here to check out the latest Illinois medical report card, including information on hospital infection rates. You can look up your own nearby hospital by name or zip code.
Our medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti encourage all patients to take advantage of this new information to help inform their healthcare decisions. Our decades in practice have made clear the risks associated with seeking medical care at a substandard facility. Personal health is too important to risk on any facility that consistently allows patients to get sicker while they are there than before they even arrived.