State provides new info to help make better decisions about health care providers

By on March 27, 2011

Springfield—Illinoisans are now able to find more information that can help them decide where to go for medical care. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold recently announced several updates to the Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care Web site, including new information about hospital acquired infection prevention and control, staffing and rates of newborn breastfeeding in hospitals.

“It is vital that consumers have a solid understanding about the quality of health care they will receive at a hospital or health care provider. If consumers are informed, they will be able to ask questions of their health care providers to receive the best health care possible,” said Dr. Arnold. “The Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care Web site allows Illinoisans to find average costs for specific medical procedures, nurse staffing levels at hospitals and general quality of care information.”

The Hospital Report Card Act requires all Illinois hospitals to report nurse staffing, infection prevention measures and hospital acquired infections data to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Consumer Guide to Health Care contains information from hospitals and ambulatory surgical treatment centers about conditions and procedures and shows variation in charges and quality of care. The website includes inpatient and outpatient data with current comparison information related to volume of cases, average charges, mortality rates, complications and hospital associated infections.

The latest additions made to the website include data from 2010 in the following areas:
new infection control staffing data and new breastfeeding data.

The Infection Control Staffing measures now available on the website show the number of infection prevention and control staff for every 100 authorized hospital beds. Healthcare associated infections are becoming an increasingly important focus for quality improvement initiatives. All hospitals in Illinois are required to have an infection prevention and control program. Infection prevention programs and staff are essential in reducing the number of infections acquired during a hospital stay and providing expertise in disease transmission and prevention. These new data supplement the information on central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) already provided on the report card.

The report card also now features the percentage of newborn infants who are breastfeeding upon discharge from the hospital. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections, and breastfed infants are at lower risk of certain chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity and asthma. Research shows that women who breastfeed may also have lower risk of some health problems, including certain breast and ovarian cancers, obesity and diabetes. IDPH encourages consumers to ask their hospital if they have a specially trained breast feeding consultant or if their maternal/child nursing staff is trained to offer help with breast feeding.

In addition, the website now includes a link to a preliminary release of the new Illinois Public Health Map. The Illinois Public Health Map feature provides the public with information about the quality of health and health care in communities, and highlights socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities that may exist.

The site also offers hospitals and surgical treatment centers the opportunity to identify quality and safety improvements by comparing information with other facilities. The site will continue to be routinely updated with the most recent data available.