New Jersey Law Requires Hospitals To Report Infection Rates Publicly

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New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) on Wednesday signed into law a bill that requires hospitals to file quarterly reports with the state on patient infection rates, types of infections and plans to control infections, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The information will be posted publicly on a state Web site, according to the law (Hester, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/1).

The statistics eventually will allow the public to compare infection rates at hospitals, although the site will not be finalized for two years, Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs said. The law requires the disclosure of surgical infections, urinary tract infections related to catheters, pneumonia related to ventilators and blood infections related to catheters. The law also gives the state health department authority to expand the list.

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Jacobs said the law could indicate whether some hospitals have excessive rates of infection. He added, "We are going to ask [hospitals], 'What are you going to do? What is your corrective action?' Then we will monitor the effectiveness of their plan." Corzine said the law "will help hospitals put procedures in place to prevent these infections and give family members access to information they need to make informed decisions" (Campbell, Newark Star-Ledger, 11/1). New Jersey is the 20th state to adopt a hospital infection disclosure law (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/1).

New Jersey Physicians
In other state news, a recent Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly poll found New Jersey physicians spend less time with patients than they did five years ago, the Bergen Record reports. The survey, directed by Patrick Murray, involved 2,100 New Jersey doctors. According to the poll, one-third of physicians surveyed are considering leaving the state. Murray said the low reimbursements are forcing physicians to take on higher patient volumes and consider early retirement.

Ron White, a colorectal surgeon who recently launched the advocacy group NJ Physicians, said, "There's no question that lower reimbursements are forcing many doctors to see more patients to meet their overhead expenses," adding, "That means less time with each patient" (Layton, Bergen Record, 10/31).

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