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APIC, SHEA Seek to Block Infection Disclosure Rules in CA

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 8, 2011

A California lawsuit seeking to block state requirements that acute care facilities report surgical site infections for certain surgical procedures is drawing national support, in part because of concerns that state rules go far beyond the intent of the statute known as "Nile's Law," and did not go through required prior review.

Workforce reports say the California Department of Public Health's rules would require the state's 350 hospitals to hire more than 500 full-time employees to hand-comb through medical records for details on patients who undergo more than 900,000 procedures each year, said CHA senior vice president for health policy Debby Rogers. 

As stated in the complaint, "This additional reporting imposes great burdens of manpower and expense on reporting hospitals, which are not called for by the underlying statute including providing extensive information on over 900,000 surgeries per year rather than only on infections and similar statistics," the lawsuit says. That diverts resources away from patient care, the complaint maintains.

"When you're talking about 900,000 surgeries and the use of limited healthcare resources, I think that's a challenge," Rogers said.

Rogers emphasizes that the CHA supports the state law, and was neutral on it when it moved through the legislature. The problem, she says, is that state officials issuing the requirements included far more surgical procedures than the original law intended.

The reporting is ordered to begin for surgeries performed on or after June 1 this year. It would cover a wide range of surgeries from the routine to the complex, from appendectomies and gallbladder procedures to heart, liver and kidney transplants.

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