CA laws require MRSA testing, infection reporting at hospitals

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) yesterday signed two measures requiring hospitals in the state to accelerate their infection control efforts and disclose their nosocomial infection rates to the public, the Los Angeles Times reports. State health officials estimate that between 5% and 10% of patients in California hospitals develop infections, often through catheters, IV lines and ventilators or during surgery. Treating those sicknesses costs about $3.1 billion a year.

According to the Times , o ne of the new laws requires high-risk patients to be tested for MRSA within 24 hours of admission. The bill, SB 1058 by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), also requires hospitals to beef up their infection control rules and report to the state their infection rates. Those will be put on the Department of Public Health website starting in 2011. The second bill, SB 158 by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter), bolsters the public health department's surveillance efforts of hospitals and requires doctors and other medical professionals at hospitals to be trained in preventing the spread of infections. Betsy Imholz, an advocate at Consumers Union, said the laws will help public health officials get a handle on the extent of the spread of these bacteria. (SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing , http://advisory.com, September 26, 2008; The Los Angeles Times , http://latimes.com, accessed September 28, 2008)