Northwestern Law professor Bernie Black and University of Illinois law professor David Hyman recently received a $450,000 grant from the Public Health Law Research program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to conduct research on healthcare law and policy.
The grant will fund a research project that will examine whether public reporting of hospital infection rates causes hospitals to reduce those infection rates and, if so, for what types of infections, and how does the impact depend on the nature of the reporting rules. These are important policy questions because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare-associated infections kill about 100,000 Americans per year. Many of these infections are preventable, but hospitals have weak incentives to prevent them.
The project will explore whether reporting of infection rates causes hospitals to actually reduce infections, whether it causes hospitals to change the way they report infection rates, or both; and the ways in which hospital infection preventionists and consumers use the reports.