At this morning’s Public Health Council meeting, the MA Department of Public Health released its most recent public report on healthcare-associated infections at MA hospitals. You can find the report here. Please note that there are many pages of appendices that will not be posted on-line until Friday. Because there are multiple graphics on those pages, it is taking a few more days to get them posted. Those pages will include hospital-specific data, with one page per hospital looking at central line-associated bloodstream infections and surgical site infections. The pages will also provide other relevant data, including rates of flu vaccination among hospital staff. As DPH staff said at today’s meeting, it would be terrific if each hospital would take its individual page, laminate it, and distribute it across the hospital so everyone knows what the hospital’s infection rates are and where they need to improve.
The report that you can find on-line today gives a wealth of information about infections, the work taking place across the state to reduce infections, the process of gathering the infection data, and more. This report also provides aggregate data about infections in Massachusetts and does list some specific hospitals that are outliers for surgical site infections.
How can consumers use this data? Now that we have a few years’ worth of data, it is possible to look at improvement trends both statewide and within individual hospitals, and as each new report is issued that will be something to look at more closely. If you are interested in one or a few specific hospitals,, you can see the data and you can then ask your doctor or your hospital (especially if you have a planned surgery or other reason to plan a hospital visit or if you have a loved one in the hospital or who may be admitted) questions about what they are doing to prevent infections. You can find out more by contacting the Quality Improvement Office or the Patient Advocacy Office of the hospital. You can also ask either of those offices what their Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is doing to work with the hospital on preventing infections. It is often said that everyone has a role in preventing infections, but if patients and families are expected to have roles in the prevention effort, then the hospitals should get their PFACs involved in figuring out what they are and how to educate about them.
A few comments arose during this morning’s Public Health Council meeting that I want to highlight. One Council member mentioned the PFAC role and stated that the reports should be brought to the PFACs’ attention. A doctor talked about how the infection prevention collaboratives in MA have encouraged a “positive competition” among hospitals to reduce infection rates and also that the public reports have been a driver in making infection prevention a priority. One member asked about disparities, and the DPH representatives said they hope to have enough data to look more closely at that in the next report. And another member of the Council said that DPH was off to a fantastic start and “don’t lose money…keep doing this.”
Which leads us to state the obvious-DPH needs money to do the many fantastic things it does, including all of the work taking place to prevent, track, investigate and report on infections. The Governor’s budget, released two weeks ago, provides $263,646 to the Infection Prevention Program at DPH and $6,318,316 to the Division of Health Care Quality and Improvement. While this is not nearly enough for all of the work that needs to get done, it is imperative that funding not be cut further.
Many kudos to DPH staff, including the Quality Division Director Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, Iyah Romm, who directed much of the work in putting together the report, and Eileen McHale who coordinates the infection prevention program. Health Care For All and the Consumer Health Quality Council gave many suggestions and comments to DPH following the release of its last report, and our concerns and recommendations were very seriously taken into account as this new report was developed. They have produced a report that is accessible and useful for consumers and hospitals. And they are using this data as well as the data in the recent Serious Reportable Events report to look at areas that may need more work (eg. vaginal hysterectomy infection rates; reporting of medication errors). As MA looks to save money and improve quality through payment and delivery system reform, the infection prevention work at DPH is a great example of an area where this is already happening.
If the continuation of this work is important to you, make sure you mention it to your state senator and representative, as budget season has begun. Also mark March 6, 9:30-10:30am, on your calendar. We are coordinating a State House event in Members Lounge that will highlight the HAI and SRE reports. Speakers will include staff from the DPH Division of Quality and Safety and some of the legislative champions for patient safety-Senator Richard Moore, Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, and Representative Denise Provost. All are welcome, but please RSVP to Deb Wachenheim at firstname.lastname@example.org.