On occasion the subject is highlighted in the nightly news when, for example, an outbreak of foodborne illness occurs because an employee in a quick service restaurant did not properly wash his or her hands. Likewise, as topics such as an avian flu pandemic become weekly news items for the general consumption, the public becomes more aware of the necessity of good hand hygiene.
In health care facilities where proper hand washing is just as critical as food service, legislation that requires the collection and reporting of infection rates is currently under consideration in at least 31 states and already enacted in seven states. This legislation grants public access enabling us to make more informed decisions when choosing where we want to receive care. The goal is to help consumers find the best quality care by promoting public disclosure of hospital infection rates. If hospitals disclose this key information, consumers and employers can select the safest hospitals; competition among hospitals will quickly force the worst to improve.