Committee Approves Erickson Plan to Reduce Health Care-Associated Infections
Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Senator Edwin B. Erickson (R-26) to address the issue of health care‑associated infections in the Commonwealth was approved by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee today.
The committee, chaired by Erickson, approved Senate Bill 968, which would establish the roles of state government and health care facilities in reducing the incidence of infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that infections acquired in health care facilities affect two million patients a year in the United States, with more than 100,000 dying from bacteria that are increasingly resistant to common antibiotics.
"Infections are not a necessary byproduct of healthcare. And, the provisions contained in Senate Bill 968 will ensure that our hospitals and nursing homes use proven tools and protocols to reduce infections in Pennsylvania, improve quality of care, improve safety for both patients and health care workers, and reduce health care costs," said Erickson.
"This issue is not new. We addressed medical errors when the General Assembly created the Patient Safety Authority in 2002. Now, we are taking the next step and implementing a process to address health care‑acquired infections," said Erickson.
Erickson pointed out that the legislation will not force facilities to "reinvent the wheel" or scrap the initiatives that they have taken to date, nor will it create a cumbersome bureaucracy which will impede progress in addressing the issue of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
"Some hospitals have already made large financial commitments to control and reduce infections and have invested in electronic surveillance systems. This legislation will incorporate the actions taken to‑date and build upon these actions so that all of our hospitals and nursing homes implement 'best practices' to control infections."
This legislation would do the following:
Unveiling of the legislation follows a committee hearing earlier this month featuring testimony from health care providers and nationally recognized experts in the field.
"Based on experience in our Pennsylvania hospitals and nationwide, I am confident that the process included in this legislation to reduce HAIs will address the issue. For example, at our hearing, we learned that resistant staph infections dropped 90 percent at one hospital after it began testing incoming ICU patients and isolating carriers of resistant strains," said Erickson. "It may be impossible to completely eliminate such infections, but Senate Bill 968 will build on the momentum that currently exists, and ensure that hospital patients and nursing home residents in our Commonwealth do not experience the negative effects of a health care‑associated infection."
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