Sunday, March 16, 2014

Activist seeking stronger rules on reporting health-care infections says industry lobbyists misled legislative committee to kill bill

"Health-care industry witnesses appeared to have presented incorrect information" to the House Health and Welfare Committee in speaking March 6 against House Bill 460, which would require all health-care facilities to report infections associated with their treatment, Dr. Kevin Kavanagh of Somerset writes in an op-ed piece in the Lexington Herald-Leader. The bill remains in committee, but its goal could be accomplished by regulation.

Dr. Kevin Kavanagh
Kavanagh is chairman of Health Watch USA, a group that tries to focus attention on the problem of health-care associated infections, also called hospital-acquired infections. He said the industry witnesses "were asked if any of the various types of facilities in Kentucky were exempt from reporting. The answer was no, that all facilities had to report through the Centers for Disease Control's national reporting system. However, critical-access hospitals and ambulatory-surgery centers are not required to report infection to the CDC. Nursing homes also do not have to report through the CDC's system."

Kavanagh writes that nursing homes report urinary-tract infections to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but "there is no data on the deadly staph infection, MRSA," or a deadly gastrointestinal infection caused by the bacteria C. Difficile, "which can run rampant in some nursing homes."

Kavanagh said the industry witnesses also misled the committee when asked "asked if a patient who was going to have hip surgery could find information on infection rates on Hospital Compare," a Medicare website. He writes, "The answers appeared to indicate that such information was available," but is "woefully inadequate" because the state doesn't have an adequate reporting system.

"For acute-care hospitals, only, bloodstream MRSA infections (a relatively rare event), colon surgeries, abdominal hysterectomies, urinary tract infections and central-line infection data can be found. Little use for patients needing hip surgery. In the past, CMS has posted on the Hospital Compare website information regarding hospital-acquired conditions, and was slated in the future to have information on neck and spine surgery. However, this information is now gone from Hospital Compare. I can only assume it, too, has fallen to the legions of health-industry lobbyists." (Read more)

For Kavanagh's March 6 testimony to the committee, click here. For his March 13 rebuttal to industry witnesses, go here.
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