“With strong, bipartisan support, the House Health Care & Wellness Committee today approved a bill to require state hospitals to identify and report hospital-acquired infections — infections that a patient didnt have until they spent time in a hospital.
Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Roy), who has been working on this legislation for more than three years, said with today passage by the committee, hes confident his bill (SHB 1106) can make it through the Legislature this year. He said he expects the measure will be heard on the House floor within in the next few weeks.
This is the first step to fixing this deadly problem. It will go a long way to alert the public about the concerns and the potential for hospital acquired infections and make hospitals aware of their responsibility to their patients, Campbell said. The public has a right to know about the concern so they can protect themselves and their families.
Before todays 11-2 committee vote, Campbell told committee members that each year two-million Americans when hospitalized are exposed to a variety of infections because of the hospital environment. Such infections prove fatal to about 90,000 people annually, and the cost is staggering, Campbell said.
When Pennsylvania passed the first-ever hospital-acquired infection law in 2003, we learned that these incidents cost citizens $3.5 billion dollars in one year, he said. Studies show that most hospital stays routinely cost a patient $31,000. But, for those with hospital acquired infections, the cost average is $185,000 per stay. He noted that nearly 75 percent of such charges are paid by Medicare or Medicaid. So, it affects every taxpayer.
In the past three years, 14 more states have approved similar laws to protect patients from hospital associated infections.
The measure passed by committee today will require hospitals to report hospital-acquired infections in all health care facilities, and will require the Dept. of Health to publish comparisons of hospital infection rates. The bill requires hospitals to start with blood stream infections this year, with other types of infection added to state law after Jan. 2011. The bill also has infection grant money included to help hospitals reduce and eliminate identified infection issues in state hospitals.
Once we know what the problems are, then we can fix them. But, the problem will never be solved through concealment and secrecy he said. A transparent system open to all is essential.
Rep. Tom Campbell
Photo from the Rep. Campbell’s website