State Senators Call For Immediate Senate Action On Drug-resistant Bugs

Thomas P. Morahan

October 30, 2007

Senator Thomas P. Morahanwas joined bySenator Mary Lou Rath (R-C-I, Williamsville) in urging Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to give "a high priority" to a bill they are spearheading, which would require all hospitals to implement an antibiotic resistant infection prevention and control method--including the isolation and treatment of infected patients. The move to pass the legislation is sparked by reports of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) outbreaks, as well as an alarming report, that was very recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showing an alarming increase in MRSA infections.

The JAMA study reveals that the incident rate of hospital-caused MRSA infections has tripled in the United States between 2000 and 2005, and an estimated 94,360 people are infected and 18,650 die annually.

The study found about 85 percent of all invasive MRSA infections were associated with health care settings, of which two–thirds surfaced in the community among people who were hospitalized, underwent a medical procedure or resided in a long–term care facility within the previous year. In contrast, about 15 percent of reported infections were considered to be community–associated, which means that the infection occurred in people without documented health care risk factors.

The MRSA legislation pushed by Senators Rath and Morahan is modeled after the Veteran Health Administration’s Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Initiative. The VA Hospital in Buffalo is currently following the protocols, and hoping to show equal or better results than the pilot program at the Pittsburgh VA, which has reduced MRSA infections by 50 percent.

"Nearly nine out of every 10 resistant staph infections are hospital or health-care related. It is critical that we enact legislation to ensure that hospitals take this seriously, and proactively improve the way they prevent and treat staph infections," said Morahan. "Senator Rath and I are urging Senator Bruno, upon return of the Senate to Albany, to place this bill at the top of the Senate agenda. The most recent statisics indicate that 25 to 30 percent of the population carry the staph bacteria -- one of the most common causes of infection. And while such infections are typically minor, invasive MRSA infections caused by drug-resistant staph, can become fatal."

"Given JAMA’s findings and the continued occurrences of MRSA in our communities, this bill takes it a step further in an effort to identify the bacteria before it does harm to employees and patients in our hospitals,"said Senator Rath. "Unfortunately, we are hearing about more incidents every day and the bill Senator Morahan and I are sponsoring calls for an immediate plan of action."

Current law, passed in 2005, requires every acute care hospital to track and then report to the state certain types of hospital-acquired infections by 2009. Recognizing the growing urgency of isolating the infection before it can spread, the new Senate legislation calls for establishing protocols to screen patients for MRSA.

"The bill we passed in 2005 was a major step forward in the fight against deadly MRSA infections," said Senator Rath.

The JAMA study collected data from nine geographic locations throughout the U.S., and researchers reviewed patient data to determine the incidence of MRSA infections. MRSA spreads from patient to patient on unclean hands, inadequately cleaned equipment, and contaminated lab coats and hospital uniforms.


TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, in relation to hospital acquired infection policy, implementation and reporting of certain staphylococcus infections

PURPOSE OF THE BILL: To fight the proliferation of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE) infections in hospitals.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds a new Public Health Law section 2819-a which: Directs the Commissioner of Health to establish new best standards for antibiotic resistant infection control in hospitals on or before 180 days after this act becomes law, which at minimum incorporate the guide- lines published by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America; and requires every hospital to report each incidence of MRSA and VRE to the Department as part of reporting requirements pursuant to Public Health Law section 2819. The bill further requires that all hospitals shall implement an antibiotic resistant infection prevention and control protocol which shall be modeled after the Federal Veteran Health Admin- istration's Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Initiative and shall include at a minimum: a. identification of colonized or infected patients through preliminary screening of each patient upon admission; b. isolation and treatment of colonized or infected patients in an appropriate manner; c. strict training and adherence to employee personal hygiene guide- lines; d. measurement consistent with a statewide MRSA measurement standard system using, at a minimum, the National Healthcare Safety Network's veterans health administration MRSA module definitions. The Commissioner is directed to adopt any and all rules and regulations necessary to further implement and enforce the provisions of this section. Section 2 provides that this act shall take effect 90 days after it shall have become law, but effective immediately, the Commissioner is authorized to amend or repeal any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act.