In 2006, Colorado passed a law requiring hospitals to publicly reveal their infection rates, it was with the expressed purpose to improve surgical hygiene. Consumers have demanded more transparency in health care in part because of stories about a drug-resistant “superbug” — MRSA, the staph germ found in hospitals across the country. Since 2004, 20 states have passed laws requiring hospitals to report infection data.
The state’s infection report was released in January with a follow-up report last week; the January report is available online. The data offer a one-year look at infections.
Most of the state’s hospitals’ infection rates were close to the national average for the number of infections at surgical sites after hip and knee replacements, heart surgery or infections through the bloodstream. Since the new requirement for reporting, some hospitals have started administering antibiotics no more than an hour before incision and have standardized pre-operative skin preparation. And since the law was enacted, a Louisville hospital has switched to a new kind of sterilizer, Delta County Memorial has hired an outside inspector and Swedish Medical Center in Englewood has launched a team of specialists focused on evaluating infection control.
At Centura Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, where infections in knee-replacement surgeries were above the national average, infection-control experts ramped up sanitation since the year the data were taken. The hospital changed its sanitizing agent and no longer lets surgical-equipment vendors follow doctors into operating rooms to help them use new tools. Vendors now must check in with hospital staff, and the hospital sterilizes the surgical equipment.
The new data complement other hospital rankings, including report cards from the Colorado Hospital Association and data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The CDPHE Annual Report contains data related to hospital-acquired infections that occurred as a result of the following procedures: central lines in adults and neonates, total/partial hip replacements, total/partial knee replacements and coronary artery bypass grafts. The report contains data for infections that occurred between the reporting period of August 1, 2007 through July 31, 2008.