State Capitol News
3:18 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

State Health Officials Working to Cut Down On Number of Hospital Infections

Phoenix, AZ – Health Director Will Humble said about 2,000 Arizonans die each
year from what are called healthcare-associated infections.
That's more people than are killed in automobile accidents. A
committee his department formed to seek solutions came up with
some ideas. But Kris Korte, a member of that panel and a nurse in
charge of infection control at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center,
said that didn't include telling prospective patients about each
hospital's infection rate.

(It is more important to focus on prevention efforts and
hospitals and other healthcare organizations than it is to report
rates. Infection rates are very difficult to explain to people
that are not involved in creating those rates.)

Shoana Anderson, deputy chief of the health department's Bureau
of Epidemiology and Disease Control, said that's because there
are variables. For example, she said some hospitals get a higher
percentage of people who are sicker. Humble said he's not
prepared to ask the law be changed to make that information
available.

(One of the things I have to do in order to make good decisions
is to rely on stakeholder groups to give good in-depth analysis
and make solid recommendations about how to proceed. I'm not in a
position to second-guess the committee.)

Humble said there appear to be more cost-efficient, low-tech
solutions including having doctors and nurses do a better job of
washing their hands.