This is barely blog-worthy but funny nevertheless. I follow or “like” public health organizations and departments on Twitter and Facebook. Once you wade through the 400 flu shot PSA’s, there are often interesting links to vital stats and fancy graphs.
Yesterday, a suggestion popped up in the sidebar for a state’s Department of Health, so I followed them. Today, I noticed that they had blocked me from following them after nary a tweet or any kind of communication.
If you’re not familiar with Twitter, blocking someone doesn’t really do much besides preventing someone from following your updates and messaging you. Needless to say, we all got a lot of laugh mileage out of their fear of the scary blogger.
State health departments need to stop hiding hospital cesarean rates from the public. Providing outdated reports is not acceptable, either. The claim that it might identify patients in rural areas is absurd, as other states simply do not disclose hospital data if there were fewer than three procedures performed. Many states demonstrate that they don’t make reproductive health a priority by refusing to provide women in the state with simple data.
Let’s look at Arkansas, which had the ninth highest rate in the country in 2008 at 34.6%. The state told us that they cannot release individual hospital information according Arkansas State Law. Luckily, the public can find information on facials and “Current Birth Data” from 2003, but no cesarean rates.
Louisiana’s health department’s web site features a page called Consumers’ Right to Know, which states the following:
The Health Data Panel is a statutorily-created advisory committee that provides recommendations to the Department on the design and implementation of the Louisiana Consumer’s Right to Know Act (SB 287/ACT 537). This legislation requires DHH to provide the Louisiana health care consumers expanded, Web-based access to reliable information on the cost, quality and performance of their health care providers and health plans. The Panel advises the Department on numerous aspects of this project, including but not limited to:
- the identification and definition of the core health care cost, quality, and performance data elements to be reported to the Department,
- the development of standards of accuracy, quality, timeliness, economy, and efficiency for the provision of data,
- the identification of the most practical methods to collect, transmit, and share required health care data,
- utilization of existing administrative data bases and modalities of data collection to provide the required data,
- ensuring confidentiality of personal health information,
- publication of provider and health plan specific cost, quality, and performance data for consumer use.
But try to find cesarean rates and you’ll come up empty handed. Louisiana had the second highest state cesarean rate in the country in 2008 at 38.0%.
Let’s stop making consumers have to go on a snipe hunt to find hospital cesarean rates. After that, maybe we can collectively tackle inconsistency and inaccuracies in reporting.