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Hospital Infection Rates Down Dramatically In U.S.

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Gaynes says the information not only helps those facilities that participate in the NNIS program but can benefit all hospitals. He says the information is on the Internet, it's in published form --, it's even on some commercial software. "I think it can serve as a model," he says.

Carmela Coyle, senior vice president of policy for the AHA, agrees. "I think that what this has shown is that you can change patient care. ... What [the CDC] did was feed all that information back to these organizations ... to give them and equip them with the information they need to actually make change, to actually improve patient care," she tells WebMD.

Confidentiality is a key aspect of the NNIS program, says Gaynes. That struck a chord with both Wade and Coyle. "While joining this, and being part of this, was voluntary," Wade tells WebMD, "there were protections so that once people volunteered to be part of this, they could feel free to report and share all of the information back with the project, so there was complete data with which to benchmark and make changes."

While this report brings back the memory of the IOM report on medical errors, Gaynes makes a distinction. He says the IOM defined a medical error as something preventable, while this report deals with "adverse health events," which are inadvertent consequences of medical treatment.

Coyle tells WebMD, "whether it's this system or an error reporting system, the bottom line objective to both those systems is learning, making changes, and improving patient care. While some of what the IOM's been talking about is around preventable error, I think what they also acknowledge is it's not all preventable; we're talking about human beings. There's no such thing as a perfect person. But how do you construct a system that helps us keep people from making mistakes?"

 

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