If you want to examine a Missouri hospital's infection rates before last year, don't bother looking for the information on the state health department's website or requesting a copy of the government records.
State health officials have deleted the data. And no electronic or paper records of the older information are available.
The deleted material, collected from 2005 through 2008, is too costly to maintain and too sensitive for the public to review for more than a year, state officials say.
Without access to infection data from previous years, consumers won't be able to adequately assess a hospital's performance in preventing infections, consumer advocates say. Specifically, the policy of the Department of Health and Senior Services makes it difficult to review how hospitals have performed over time and whether they perform consistently above or below the national average.