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Buono: When Dealing With Infectious Diseases, Prevention Is More Effective Than Treatment

METUCHEN – Senator Barbara Buono and New Jersey State AARP President Sy Larsen today sent a letter to Governor Jon Corzine, urging him to act during the lame duck legislative session on a bill requiring hospitals to put increased infection-control practices in place to help prevent the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or (MRSA), a drug-resistant strain of bacteria.

The letter comes in response to a Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) report released yesterday, which outlined the danger of MRSA and other drug-resistant staph infections.

“According to federal health officials, this new strain of MRSA is more deadly than AIDS. My legislation is about working to prevent the spread of this deadly virus in hospitals,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex, who serves on the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens panel. “When dealing with infectious diseases, prevention is more effective than treatment. By creating more stringent prevention programs, we would be working to save lives throughout New Jersey.”

Senator Buono’s legislation, S-2308, would require hospitals to screen and subsequently isolate any patient found to be a carrier of MRSA and another deadly staph infection known as Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococus (VRE).

“This session, I sponsored and saw signed into law, S-2580, which requires hospitals to screen and isolate patients carrying MRSA upon being admitted into an intensive care unit and to expand the testing to other areas of the hospital as quickly as possible. Now is the time to expand the testing program,” said Senator Buono.

According to the JAMA report, MRSA incidence rates are highest among persons aged 65 and higher, and the virus is most often spread in a health care environment, Senator Buono said. The study went on to show that in 2005 an estimated 94,360 people in the United States developed serious MRSA infections. That same year, approximately 18,650 died during hospital stays related to serious MRSA infections, Senator Buono said.

“To me, the solution is clear – testing these patients will help save lives. We owe it to the people of New Jersey to do all we can to help preserve their health, especially during hospital stays. Passing my legislation in the lame duck session would help put New Jersey one step closer to becoming a leader in the prevention of dangerous hospital infections,” said Senator Buono.

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