Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2014

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Health care transparency bills clear state Senate committee

Sheila Leslie

Sheila Leslie

A package of health care reform and transparency bills passed a key milestone in the state Senate on Thursday night, creating a “magnificent compliment of bills,” one sponsor said.

“I’m thrilled to see how they came together,” said Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas.

The Nevada Hospital Association and health care advocates had been at odds over how data should be reported.

Hospitals wanted infection rates to be published, while health care advocates wanted raw numbers to be posted, so Nevada’s data could be compared to national figures.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services amended the bills so that both the raw numbers and the rates of infection, per thousand patient bed days, will be reported.

“This package of bills, taken together, significantly improves health care quality in Nevada,” said state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

The Las Vegas Sun published a series last year, “Do No Harm: Hospital Care in Las Vegas,” which, based on the newspaper's analysis of 2.9 million hospital billing records, revealed 3,689 preventable injuries, infections and surgical mistakes in Las Vegas hospitals in 2008 and 2009.

The Sun identified more than 300 cases in which patients died because of mistakes that could have been prevented.

Leslie said the Nevada Hospital Association cooperated with lawmakers on the bills. “They were active participants,” she said.

Four years ago, Leslie proposed more modest legislation for hospital transparency and only got it passed at the final hour.

“I’ve seen a definite shift over the past year or so,” she said.

The bills must now go to the full Senate for a vote and then would have to pass the Assembly.

They are:

• SB209: Requires the state to create a website that would allow consumers to compare medical facilities based on these events.

• SB264: Requires “adverse health events” to be publicly reported. It defines the events as actions to a patient that resulted in or has the potential to harm a patient. That includes an infection acquired at the facility, death and serious injury.

• SB338: Expands the state reporting system to include nursing homes with 25 or more beds.

• SB339: Requires patients or their representative to be notified if they get a facility-acquired infection.

• SB340: Requires hospitals and surgical centers to report the names of physicians doing procedures.

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