Hospital Infections: Bills Say Surgery Patients Have No Right to Know

March 26, 2013


Hospital Infections

Hospital Infections

It is no secret that certain types of medical procedures including hip replacements, knee replacements and cardiac surgeries all have a higher rate of infection than other procedures that are not as invasive. Until recently, hospitals have been required to report all infections that were determined to be caused during all surgical procedures in an effort to tackle the issues brought up by hospitals to reduce the infections. A new bill, HB 1471, is passing through the Washington State House of Representatives and is set to eliminate the reporting of certain infections caused during these surgical procedures.

Why These Procedures?

These three procedures the total hip, total knee and certain cardiac procedures are invasive surgeries requiring the incision point to be completely opened up, which increases the risk of infection while the surgical area is open on the table. Surgeries that require a small incision, or use of a scope, have a lower risk of infection since there is no open incision, just a small hole. There are precautions that every medical facility must take to try and reduce the risk of infection as set by federal mandated guidelines.

Why Should Hospitals Report Infections?

Hospitals have been required to report infections that are caused by these procedures so through reporting, they can study the similarities. When they figure out what the similarities are, they are able to fix them, and eventually stop the spread of the infections. Reporting also tells prospective patients the ratio between the surgical procedure and the rate of infection so they can make an informed decision as to where they should have the procedure done. Hospitals and facilities with high infection rates are often unable to get new patients since they have a bad reputation, while hospitals with low infection rates tend to continue to see an up tick in new patients. When the mandatory reporting stops, patients will no longer be able to know how many infections are reported with these surgeries, putting even more patients at risk for disease when they have their surgery done.

What are the Implications of the Infections

There are thousands of dangerous infections that can be caused during surgical procedures that range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The mild infections can be treated with one course of antibiotics but the more serious infections such as MRSA, can be life threatening. These types of infections have been found to be immune to antibiotics, which mean that the patient must be very careful in their everyday dealings with other people and their own health. Many patients with MRSA go on to live normal, healthy lives but some will suffer dire consequences, as a simple cold in MRSA patients can become deadly.

The overall chance of infections in hospitals are relatively low, due to the increase of education in prevention that doctors and nurses are required to undergo. Even with the added precautions and education, patients still have the right to know what the chances of infection are before they go into any surgical procedure. There is no reason these records cannot remain confidential although this information is a necessity to ensure patient safety when they are undergoing any major procedure.

Andrew Huang is a sports surgery technician. He enjoys informing the public about the work he does and any research and findings he comes across. For more knee replacement therapy information, visit the link.

Hospital Infections: Bills Say Surgery Patients Have No Right to Know

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Hospital Infections

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