Vitale Bill To Increase Hospital Infection Reporting And Prevention Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals to report to the public certain information regarding infection rates was unanimously approved today by the Assembly, receiving final legislative approval.

“Hospital-borne infections can mean the difference between life and death for seniors and patients with compromised immune systems,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “New Jersey’s healthcare consumers need to know which hospitals and healthcare facilities are doing their part to prevent healthcare-related infections, and which can do more. Through this legislation, we would empower consumers to make the best choices for their healthcare, and put pressure on hospitals to step up infection prevention programs.”

The bill, S-147, would require hospitals to make quarterly reports to the State regarding their infection rates. The report would also include infection control procedures being undertaken at the hospital, and specific information about the types of infection reported at the facility, without specifically identifying patients infected. The reported information would then be posted on the Department’s Web site: http://www.state.nj.us/health.

“New Jersey has led the way in terms of reporting medical care information to the public on the Web, including doctors’ malpractice histories, where to find the cheapest pharmaceutical drugs, and information regarding violations at nursing homes,” said Senator Vitale. “This bill would further educate healthcare consumers, and bring the power of the competitive marketplace to ensure greater safeguards against hospital-based infections.”

Senator Vitale noted that healthcare-associated infections are a major public health concern in the nation, affecting between five to ten percent of patients hospitalized each year, and resulting in two million infections and 90,000 deaths. Treatment for hospital-related infections is estimated to cost an additional $4.5 to $5.7 billion annually in health care costs.

Senator Vitale added that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended adopting this legislation as a model for other states to follow, in order to increase patient awareness and focus on infection prevention procedures.

“Nationally, healthcare-related infections pose a potentially fatal health risk, and cost billions to treat, often paid for through public healthcare funds,” said Senator Vitale. “We need to do more across the country to decrease the prevalence of hospital-based infections, to protect patients and maximize our healthcare dollars. This bill is the first step in ensuring safer hospital stays for New Jersey’s patients, and will cut down on the costs associated with treating preventable infections in our healthcare facilities.”

The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.

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