As president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, which is advocating in support of the trauma data confidentiality bill -- House Bill 2506 -- I would like to respond to your recent editorial questioning that effort and to clarify a few misconceptions.
First, rural hospitals are not currently required to submit trauma data, whether for public or private scrutiny. The purpose of the bill is to encourage more hospitals, other than those currently required by law, to collect this data.
Its important to recognize the purpose of a trauma registry, which is a body of data collected about the initial care, treatment, and follow-up care delivered to trauma patients. The purpose of such a registry is to enable public health agencies, physicians, paramedics, hospitals and rehab facilities to look at the entire system of care delivered to trauma patients so we can find better ways to help get the right patient to the right place at the right time.
A trauma registry uses a systems approach that will help both the state and the community of providers to improve that care. It is not meant to be used to publicly highlight an individual provider's quality or lack of quality care. If the state collects more comprehensive trauma data from across the state, it is likely to improve trauma care everywhere, but especially in rural Arizona.
However, it is a significant administrative and financial burden for smaller, rural hospitals to collect this data; they're not likely to volunteer to do so if the data can be misused.
If it so happened that a delay in getting a trauma patient to a hospital, due to a lack of ambulance or other transport resources in a particular area resulted in a bad outcome, I don't believe that placing blame with an individual provider within the continuum of trauma care is going to improve the system.
Having a comprehensive statewide registry will help us pinpoint where more resources, like ambulances, are needed and to make sure that community gets those resources. Arizona's hospitals are eager to participate in the trauma registry by submitting data about trauma patients; but they don't want to be inappropriately blamed for what is essentially a system issue.
One last point: there are many other avenues that currently exist for public access to quality indicators about individual providers, such as reports from our state and federal health care agencies, and the major hospital accrediting organization, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, to name just a few.It is also important to understand that the bill does not affect the public's access to quarterly reports about how the system is doing, that has remained intact.
John R. Rivers
President and Chief Executive Officer
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association