Learn how your hospital ranks when it comes to infections, patient satisfaction

Key infection data for all hospitals, including those in Georgia, is now available through information available online via a federal report card.

The US Department of Health & Human Services website hospitalcompare.hhs.gov provides key information on a hospital’s instances of infections linked to central lines, which are catheters implanted to provide critical fluids and medications to sick patients. Unfortunately, these central lines can also make patients vulnerable to infections that can have a devastating effect on those already struggling to get well.

By knowing how their hospitals rank in regards to these, and other, key measures, patients are better equipped to make decisions about where they get their health care.

“This is a tremendous step in transparency for Georgia’s health care consumers,” said Georgia Watch Health Access Program Director Holly Lang. “We applaud the federal government for making available to consumers this critical resource, particularly that of hospital-acquired infections and conditions.”

Nationally, approximately 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections are reported each year, affecting approximately one in every 20 patients and resulting in about 100,000 deaths annually. These disturbing statistics are particularly devastating to seniors and others who are most vulnerable to shortfalls in patient safety.

Georgia law does not require that hospitals publicly release key safety data. Efforts to make public disclosure mandatory have been attempted in the past, but did not gain the necessary traction to make it through the legislative process. Currently, 27 states require the public disclosure of hospital-acquired infections and other key safety data, including neighbors Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.

“With billions of dollars in resulting costs accrued from hospital readmission every year, patient safety is essential to ensuring both the physical and fiscal health of Georgians,” Lang said. “By having access to crucial information about a hospital’s safety track record, patients are better able to make educated choices about where they will go for their care.”

In addition to infection data, the federal report card provides information about other hospital-acquired conditions, patient satisfaction scores and care outcomes, and allows patients to choose up to three different hospitals to see how they compare in those areas.