A bill introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would make hospitals comply with stricter reporting standards and guidelines to fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In a teleconference with reporters, Durbin said only 2% of U.S. hospitals—approximately 350—voluntarily report MRSA infections. “We need to know the prevalence of the infection around the country,” he said. The bill would require hospitals to report their infection rates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “With better data, it’s easier for researchers to learn more about how to treat and, ideally, how to prevent these dangerous infections,” Durbin said.
The federal government in turn would develop best-practices guidelines for hospital infection-control plans. In other provisions, the bill would introduce a quality-improvement payment program through the CMS to provide payment subsidies to hospitals for lowering hospital-acquired infection rates.
Durbin said he would be sending out letters to all senators to generate bipartisan support. Fellow Illinois Democratic senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama is a co-sponsor on the bill, Durbin noted.
The CDC estimates that in 2005, 94,000 Americans developed MRSA infections and that 19,000 died from it, more than the number of people who died from HIV/AIDS, homicide, emphysema or Parkinson’s disease.