Hospital infections bill on way to Gov. Inslee

Staff writerApril 26, 2013 

The Legislature has given final approval to a bill that requires Washington hospitals to report publicly on a broader range of bloodstream infections acquired by patients while receiving care in virtually all areas of their facilities.

The new law, which is meant to bring the state’s reporting requirements into alignment with Obamacare, expands reporting under a 2007 law to include infections acquired in a broader number of settings and in virtually all areas of a facility. It also adds reporting whether hospitals are administering antibiotics before surgery.

But the bill was amended to overcome some objections raised by Consumers Union, which sought more disclosure for patients than an initial version of the bill that passed the House unanimously in February.

House Bill 1471  now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing. The House gave its final OK Friday afternoon to changes made by the Senate.

As amended by Republican Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville the legislation says that ongoing reporting must continue for infections connected to cardiac, hip, and knee surgeries. These had been required under Washington’s landmark 2007 law but were dropped in the early versions of HB 1471.

Hospitals objected to including those three categories, believing infection rates are low and that in a time of scarce resources facilities should focus on areas of greatest concern.

Democratic Rep. Marcus Riccelli of Spokane authored HB 1471 and on Friday’s vote, he said: “This bill will improve public health and patient safety.”

Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, had fought to pass Washington’s original law, which was authored by a former state representative, Tom Campbell, a Republican from Roy. That law immediately put Washington in the forefront of states along with Pennsylvania and New York.

Under the changes by Becker, reporting on cardiac, knee and hip replacement surgeries will continue at least through 2016 – when the Department of Health must review how reporting is going – and then sunset. Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher of Gig Harbor had sponsored a Senate version of the bill and agreed to add back the three procedures if they sunset after a review period.

Lisa McGiffert, who leads Consumer Union’s national Safe Patient Project, said in February that adding those three procedures to the report list was important. Our story on the group’s objections is here.

“The issue for us is diminishing reporting. (Washington) state led the way and if the states had not led the way we would not be where we are with the federal government,” McGiffert said at the time. CU’s project has advocated for disclosure laws adopted by 30 states and the District of Columbia.

McGiffert said that keeping Washington’s standards higher than federal standards under Obamacare is a good thing for patients – especially for those seeking elective knee or hip surgeries that are expected to become far more common in the next decade.

“We are very happy with this outcome in that the bill ensures that the public will continue to get information about the infection rates of heart surgeries and hip and knee replacement surgeries until 2017,” McGiffert added Friday in an email. “Five years of public disclosure will make these surgeries safer. This is a win for Washington consumers.”

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service