Data on hospital-acquired infections, other conditions online

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted information about hospital-acquired conditions on its website, and The Courier-Journal not only has a story about it today, it has an easily searchable database of Kentucky hospitals.

This is not information that the Kentucky Hospital Association or the American Hospital Association wants online, at least in its current form. “You have to look at the totality of the care. And these little snapshots that CMS wants to pick out are very misleading,” KHA Senior Vice President Nancy Galvagni told C-J reporter Patrick Howington. She said the data don’t allow for differences between hospitals, such as specialities, that may cause higher rates of acquired conditions.

However, Doug Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, told Howington that the industry needs to “embrace transparency. Sometimes we don’t like the results of that, but I think transparency is good for us and good for the public.” Dr. Kevin Kavanagh of Somerset, chairman of the nonprofit group Health Watch USA, “said the data’s greatest value may be to help hospitals spot areas that need improvement, rather than to help patients choose between hospitals,” Howington writes. “In fact, a hospital shown as having a high complication rate ‘may be the safest hospital to go to, because they were under pressure to get the problem corrected.'” (Read more)

The conditions tracked are trauma such as falls, infections from catheters, bedsores, poor blood-sugar control for diabetics, foreign objects left in bodies, air or gas bubbles in blood vessels, and transfusions of the wrong blood type.

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