Missouri Purges Data From Infection Records

An article by Jim Doyle exposes the fact that the State of Missouri has deleted hospital infection data from their records citing that it is too costly to maintain and too sensitive for the public to review for more than a year. 

Doyle writes:  "Without access to infection data from previous years, consumers won't be able to adequately assess a hospital's performance in preventing infections, consumer advocates say. Specifically, the policy of the Department of Health and Senior Services makes it difficult to review how hospitals have performed over time and whether they perform consistently above or below the national average."

This decision to purge data has stirred a heated political, legal and social debate regarding public health records. 

Rep. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, a family-practice physician who pushed the infection bill in the Legislature is quoted as saying, "It's pretty sad to me that the (health) department can't give you a trend to show that a hospital is getting better or worse. It shows that the department doesn't really care,"

Senator Sarah Steelman, one of the original bill's sponsors, said "I'm surprised at the agency. The job of the health department is to protect people. It makes no sense at all to eliminate data after one year."

Ken Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, weighed in on the topic by stating, "It sounds like they're violating the spirit if not the letter of the law, If it's being posted online, they don't need to take it down."

To read Doyle's entire article please visit "Missouri Purges Data From Infection Records".

Holding Physicians (More) Accountable for Preventable Medical Errors

A post by Bruce Bierhans of provides an insightful and objective look at the pivotal area of accountability. His piece strikes a balance between explaining the extraordinary and positive experiences he has had with medical professionals...yet urges how we must press for more accountability when it comes to preventable medical errors. And he's right (one needn't look further than the deplorable statistics and fatalities).

According to Bierhans,"We all have stories or experiences involving marvelous medical professionals that do what they do every lives. However, our judicial system is one based upon the concept of "accountability"; meaning that our system only works when professionals, including physicians and nurses, are held accountable for the preventable damages that they cause."

This harkens back to the interview we held with Dr. Meghan Dierks a few months ago. As Dr. Meghan Dierks found, in sharing weekly compliance data through the use of Hospital Video Auditing (HVA), hand hygiene compliance increased from 38% to 98% in 4 weeks--and stayed there.

Besides the astounding results from HVA's consistent stream of data reporting and benchmarking, what was particularly noteworthy was the area of responsibility that she homes in on. Dierks posits, "I think with further implementations we're going to realize that no institution can be without this technology. Because it is so effective, it almost seems irresponsible not to employ these techniques to solve this persistent safety issue."

Whether it will be insurance companies pressing on medical institutions by not reimbursing for medical errors, patient advocacy groups leaning on regulators to provide more transparency, hospital administrations re-engineering safety practices from the inside out--or a confluence of support from all sides of the safety spectrum--accountability is the common thread.

As Bierhans writes, "Our challenge in representing our clients is to convince juries that while we all want our doctors to be heroes, they can and do make mistakes; often with horrific consequences. When those mistakes occur, they have to be accountable. Without accountability, in government or the law, we have chaos."

One thing is certain up to 100,000 preventable deaths annually already qualifies as mass chaos within the very hospitals that provide us care.

Bierhans post here. Our interview with Dr. Dierks located here.

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