MADISON, Wis.-The Wisconsin Hospital Association said last week it will publicly disclose information on the quality and safety of its 93 member hospitals, adding to a trend started by Rhode Island. The association said the effort to organize an information-reporting program and prepare data for disclosure will take 12 to 18 months. The WHA said it will collect data on how well each hospital performs in providing recommended care for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. It also plans to release track records of hospitals in meeting five patient-safety standards, a subset of 11 patient-safety goals set earlier this year by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, said Dana Richardson, vice president of quality initiatives. Like Rhode Island, the WHA said its disclosures will reflect how often hospitals adhere to 10 clinical guidelines for effective treatment of the conditions. The same guidelines are being used by the JCAHO in its Oryx performance-measurement program and by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a pilot program announced last week involving facilities in Arizona, Maryland and New York. Meanwhile, beginning in 2004, the state of Wisconsin will require all 125 hospitals in the state to provide state employees with quality data, such as hospital infection rates, complications and overall performance. The project is likely to become broader. Hospital officials and the WHA are working on plans to make the data available to anyone, not just the 213,000 people insured through the state. Hospitals, however, are concerned that consumers will misinterpret outcomes data. State officials support releasing the information as an incentive to improve quality.
CHICAGO-The University of Illinois at Chicago will compete to become one of two federally designated and funded biodefense research laboratories. UIC said it has secured the backing of universities in Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. UIC Vice Chancellor Charles Rice, M.D., said project backers would seek up to $140 million in federal funding for the proposed center, which would not only research ways to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of disease but also would train area healthcare providers to respond to bioterrorism attacks. The effort would involve the university's academic programs and its 426-bed medical center. Consortiums based around the University of California-Davis and Columbia University, New York, also plan to compete for funding, UIC said. Applications for funding are due Feb. 10, 2003, and Rice said he anticipates a response from the government by midsummer. The university said it announced the proposal early in hopes of obtaining community support.
LANSING, Mich.-The Michigan Department of Community Health acted legally when it attempted to cut costs by limiting the drugs doctors can prescribe to low-income patients, the state's Court of Appeals ruled last week. The plan, which went into effect in February, allows doctors to prescribe only certain medications to the 1.6 million patients who rely on state aid, including Medicaid and programs for infants and the elderly. Doctors must get state authorization for drugs not on the list. A lower court halted the program after drug companies and mental health advocates sued, saying the program was unconstitutional and endangered patients' lives. The Court of Appeals permanently lifted the injunction this week, ruling that the drug companies and mental health advocates failed to show their case was likely to succeed.