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California Legislation Prevents Deadly Hospital Infections

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed legislation that will create a robust prevention and surveillance system over deadly hospital infections-fostering improvements within hospitals and providing consumers with important information about hospital infection rates. Curbing hospital infections will also save health care dollars by reducing patients' length of stay and readmissions, as well as minimizing avoidable deaths and illnesses.

"These important measures will help save lives and health care dollars by reducing the number of infections that people are exposed to while staying in the hospital," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "Improving patient safety within hospitals and arming consumers with information about hospital infection rates will better protect Californians and improve the overall quality of health care."

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SB 1058 by Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) establishes the Medical Facility Infection Control and Prevention Act or "Nile's Law," which requires hospitals to develop more comprehensive policies and procedures to improve and ensure effective infection control practices. It also requires the Department of Public Health to establish a health care acquired infection program that will receive reports from hospitals on specified hospital-acquired infection rates. In addition, hospitals would be required to screen certain high-risk patients for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and to provide instructions regarding aftercare and precautions to prevent the spread of the infection to others.

SB 158 by Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter) expands upon the current responsibilities of the existing California Department of Public Health's (CDPH) Healthcare Associated Infections Advisory Committee. The bill requires hospitals and skilled nursing facilities to establish plans to improve patient safety. This bill also contains detailed training requirements for hospital infection control committee chairs, clinicians, and all licensed and non-licensed hospital staff.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that every year two million patients contract a hospital acquired infection while being treated for something else, and almost 100,000 die every year from these infections.

SB 891 by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) builds on existing law that authorizes health facilities to practice Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) by establishing the Elective Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Pilot Program at CDPH. The program will authorize up to six eligible acute care hospitals that are licensed to provide cardiac catheterization laboratory service in California, and that meet prescribed, additional criteria to perform scheduled, elective primary percutaneous coronary intervention for eligible patients.