New York City puts hospital error data on the web


 
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NEW YORK (ASRN.ORG) -- Eleven hospitals in the nation's largest public health system have begun putting data on the web on infections and death rates in response to widespread concern about hospital errors that are seen as preventable, deadly and costly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected that 1.7 million patients nationwide would get an infection during a hospital stay this year, and that of those, 99,000, or about 270 per day, would die. The centers estimate the cost of treating such infections at more than $30 billion a year.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation in response to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's effort to make public health a centerpiece of his administration and by the hospital corporation's recent focus on improving patient safety, is a bold step in an industry that has long resisted transparency, experts said.

In posting the safety and performance information on the hospital corporation's Web site, www.nyc.gov/hhc, the public hospitals, which treat 1.3 million patients a year, are far ahead of the industry, health care experts and consumer advocates said.

"It does focus on the underbelly of health care," Alan D. Aviles, president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, said in an interview. "But if you want to make improvements, you have to acknowledge the underbelly."

The Web site allows the public to see the overall death rate, the rate of deaths after heart attacks, preventable bloodstream infections and pneumonia cases, among other measures, at the 11 hospitals.

"Others will draw courage from them," said Jim Conway, senior vice president at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a national advocacy and research group. "They are exposing themselves to considerable scrutiny."

Some of the information on the Web site has been reported to the state and federal governments, but has not been easily accessible to the public. Public reporting of other data, including a hospital's mortality rate, is not required.

In 19 states, hospitals are required to report some information to the public about hospital-acquired conditions like bloodstream infections and bedsores.

A law passed this year in New York requires hospitals to report rates of certain types of infections to the State Health Department, which will issue hospital "report cards" in 2009.

Consumer groups and other experts say that because of resistance from the state's powerful hospital industry, compliance with the new disclosure law has lagged behind similar efforts in other states.

But state health officials said there was no pressure from hospitals to slow down the effort, and they said they were working as quickly as possible to collect data from every institution and standardize the information so accurate comparisons can be made.

"We are not wasting a minute of this time," said Rachel Stricof, director of the State Health Department's hospital-acquired infection reporting program.

Still, some in the industry warn that publishing performance data while many hospitals and states are using different ways to measure success or failure could confuse consumers and unfairly portray some hospitals.

Health experts said hospitals had resisted making such data public â€â€



 
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Articles in this issue:

Masthead

  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Contributors:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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