GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Jim Corbett has folders full of letters, emails and reports he sent and received to the Michigan House Health Policy Committee trying to get a state law requiring hospitals to reveal their infection stats.
So far, his efforts have failed.
He told Target 8 investigators he received great care while he was in Grand Rapids hospitals, but he became interested in this issue when his cousin died from an infection acquired while being treated for cancer.
Since then, he's been working to get the legislature to adopt a law requiring hospitals to publicly report their infection rates.
"I resent the fact that I don't know when I go into a hospital whether I'm at low-risk or high-risk for acquiring a possibly lethal infection," he said. "I'm not afraid of going into a hospital for treatment. I'm afraid of acquiring an infection."
But hospitals say it's hard to track infections from their source . Some hospitals may have sicker patients, making comparison unfair, and hospital officials maintain the public must be educated on how to read and understand the numbers.
"The hospitals make a good argument," said Corbett, retired from a career with the Social Security Administration. "Part of it is cost and part of it is just they don't want the public, they fear the public's going to misinterpret the reports. But that's true of any report. It's up to them when the report is issued to explain."
He's received some interest from legislators, he told Target 8, but he's up against an influential health care lobby. Three different bills since 2005 died quietly without being brought up for a public hearing.
And according to one national organization lobbying at the federal level, there is also no organized pressure group in Michigan backing up his efforts.
Corbett said 27 other states require some level of public disclosure of hospital infection rates. "So it could be that Michigan may end up being the only state out of all 50 where hospitals are not required to report."
If Michigan hospitals don't disclose their infection numbers, he said, the federal government might eventually require it.
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