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Alarming MRSA Infection Rates Underscore Need for Public Reporting of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Date:10/18/2007

h doctors and nurses with unwashed hands, contaminated gloves and medical equipment. Numerous studies have documented that hand hygiene compliance rates in most hospitals are unacceptably low -- usually below 50 percent.

That means, on average, doctors, nurses and other health care workers are failing to clean their hands properly over half the time. Earlier this week, Consumers Union called on hospitals nationwide to disclose their hand hygiene compliance rates.

The CDC has previously estimated that nearly two million patients develop a variety of infections, including MRSA infections, while being treated in the hospital every year. These patients require extra care and often end up staying longer in the hospital to recover, which adds billions of dollars to the health care bill paid by insurers, consumers, and taxpayers annually. Nearly 100,000 people die from MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections annually.

In a recent report based on data collected from its hospitals, Pennsylvania found that insurers paid nearly $46,000 more for patients with infections than for patients without infections. Dr. John A. Jernigan, Chief of Interventions and Evaluations at the CDC, has said that these infections result in up to $27.5 billion in additional hospital-related expenses annually.

In recent years, nineteen states have passed laws requiring hospitals to disclose how many of their patients are developing infections during treatment. The public reporting laws are aimed at spurring hospitals to improve infection control efforts and helping consumers make more informed health care decisions. A hospital infection reporting law also was approved by the New Jersey state legislature, but it has not been signed into law yet.

So far, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Vermont have produced public reports on their state hospitals' infection rates. More information about these reports can be found at:

SOURCE Consumers Union
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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