TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono today welcomed Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approval of her bill to require hospitals to implement more stringent infection prevention programs targeted at limiting the number of antibiotic-resistant staph infections.
“Infections by these so-called supergerms are becoming an increasing problem in hospitals nationwide,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “By implementing some rather simple precautionary measures, we can save countless lives and billions of dollars each year.”
Senator Buono’s bill, S-2580 (A-4179), would require hospitals to implement infection-control practices that incorporate an number of strategies including screening and isolating patients carrying drug-resistant bacteria upon admission, implementing contact precautions for patients found to be colonized or infected by the bacteria and taking patient cultures for those discharged or transferred from the unit where isolation has been implemented.
“Countries like Denmark and Holland have already shown the effectiveness of infection control programs like this one in this bill. I fully expect those same significant reductions in the prevalence of staph infections in New Jersey hospitals upon adoption of this bill,” added Senator Buono.
Additionally, staff are required to adhere strictly to hygiene guidelines and each facility must develop a written infections prevention and control policy.
The guidelines outlined in the bill would need to be implemented in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) or other high-risk unit within a month of enactment. Each hospital would then need to expand the program to all units as quickly as feasibly possible.
The guidelines seek to reduce the number of healthcare facility-acquired infections, especially those caused by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA infections have risen from 2% of all reported staph infections in 1974 to more than 60% of all cases in the United States today. The treatment of patients infected by MRSA is costing the United States over $3 billion a year.
“We’ve come to expect all the answers to our medical problems to come in pill form. In this case, we need to take the exact opposite tact and try to prevent these infections in the first place. “By encouraging hospitals to isolate those incoming patients carrying MRSA and implementing more stringent hygiene practices, we can have a significant impact on this rising problem,” added Senator Buono.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36-0 and now await a final votes in Assembly.