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Most surgical infections go unreported by hospitals

Surgeries performed that result in infection for patients kills approximately 8,000 patients every year. Yet hospitals throughout the country including Kentucky and Ohio are reluctant to report such surgical errors, and this is why a call for new public reporting standards is underway.

Only 21 states in the nation have legislation that requires such reporting concerning surgical site infections, and only eight of those states make such data publicly available. What's worse is that only ten of the 250 procedures performed will be considered in the recording of such information. In fact, many states have different requirements as to just how much information will be reported.

It is unclear why reporting standards are required in some areas while not in others. There are also discrepancies as to when certain types of data are compared for different states. Some states have more stringent reporting requirements than others and this makes it difficult for consumers to know which areas actually have lower rates of infections. In some circumstances, the incentive for hospitals is not to report such data out of fear that their facility will appear inferior to other facilities that also do not report such data.

Though having such information available would be welcome in that it would help patients make better choices concerning their personal medical care, requirements for disclosure will not completely prevent medical malpractice from occurring. It will still be some time before all of the information intended to be provided by such requirements will actually be made available to the public.

Other means to place curbs on medical negligence will also need to be pursued and this includes victims of such malpractice retaining attorneys to bring medical malpractice claims.

Source: Forbes, "Lack of National Reporting Mandate for Hospital Infections Hurts Consumers," by Gergana Koleva, April 5, 2012

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