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Reporting requirements regarding surgical site infections

Surgeries performed that result in infection for patients kills approximately 8,000 patients every year. And because hospitals in Pennsylvania and the whole United States are reluctant to report such surgical errors recommendations for public reporting standards of such hospital infections have been made.

Just about every state has its own requirements as to what should and should not be reported. There are only 21 states in the nation have legislation that requires reporting for incidents of surgical site infections, and in 13 of those states the data does not need to be made public. Also, only ten types of surgical procedures of the 250 total performed are used in measurements of such infections.

Because such reporting is not uniform, requirements for disclosure will likely do little to prevent medical malpractice. The issue will likely continue to be entangled in red tape. It's unclear if such reporting will ever be the same among all states or if what is reported will at some point be made available to the public.

Why reporting standards are required in some areas while not in others has yet to be explained. Certain states have more stringent reporting requirements than others and this makes it difficult for the public to understand what geographic areas or specific hospitals have the lowest rates of infection. No incentive has been provided for most hospitals for be forthright in their reporting.

If the legislators wish for the number of medical malpractice lawsuits to be reduced, steps should be taken to reduce infections in hospitals. Accurate reporting standards would be a good start. Until that day arrives, attorneys will continue to represent clients in lawsuits aimed at medical providers that have not abided by safe medical practices.

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

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