Hospital-acquired infections are on the rise and have become a serious health problem. A 2007 study showed that 99,000 deaths were attributable to hospital-acquired infections alone. Illinois responded to this health problem by becoming the first state to enforce requirements that hospitals report incidences of hospital-acquired infections.
In 2007, Illinois passed two pieces of legislation regarding the control of hospital-acquired infections, which were Senate Bill 233/Public Act 95-312 and House Bill 192/Public Act 95-282. The Senate Bill requires each hospital to create a MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) control program. This infection control program must include an active testing system to identify all MRSA-colonized intensive-care unit (ICU) patients and other at-risk patients. The policy mandates that those patients infected with MRSA bacteria are placed on isolation. The Senate Bill also requires that each hospital make annual reports of all MRSA incidences among those ICU and at-risk patients.
The House Bill represents a more gradual approach to infection control and is supported by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control Epidemiology (APIC). The law requires hospitals to perform annual risk assessments regarding infections and to develop infection control plans that follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for MRSA and other multi-drug resistant organisms.
In 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cited two hospital-acquired infections that would exempt payment under Medicare, which are catheter-associated urinary tract infection and infections at a surgical site. In 2008, Medicare added two more infections to its nonpayment list: surgical site infections for certain elective procedures and infections that result from bariatric surgeries. So when an infection occurs as a result of one of these conditions Medicare would not make payment for the associated medical services required to treat the infection.
It is in the best interest of hospitals to make sure that they receive payment for all the services they are providing, so the CMS exemptions add a financial incentive for hospitals to be diligent about hospital-acquired infections. It is imperative that hospitals remain diligent about the spread of infections to patients and hospital staff. Operating rooms and other procedural locations require special consideration and a high level of sterilization.
Yet some say hospitals are fighting a losing battle because of the quick rate at which certain bacteria are developing new resistances to current antibiotics. This problem is further compounded by the slow pace of developing new antibiotics to fight these infections and is a cause of concern to both physicians and public health officials. In fact, according to a brief by Extending the Cure since 1980 the number of new antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has consistently fallen. However, some new drugs are in fact being developed that could help ease the rate of hospital-acquired infections.