TRENTON – State Sens. Barbara Buono, (D-18), of Metuchen, and Joe Vitale, (D-19), of Woodbridge, introduced legislation that would require New Jersey hospitals to implement a facility-wide plan to prevent the spread of MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can be life-threatening in hospital settings but is preventable through the use of basic infection control procedures.
Buono said in a release, “MRSA is a serious infection that is resistant to most antibiotics, but aggressive prevention measures have proven successful in stemming the spread of this potentially fatal illness. Requiring prevention strategies be employed throughout hospitals in every facility in the state, with front-line hospital staff engaged in the process, will be a significant step forward in protecting patients against contracting this infection and ensuring our hospitals are safe.”
Current law requires that hospitals have prevention programs for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in intensive care units, or if the facility does not have an ICU, in other high-risk areas of the hospital such as surgical units. As signed in 2007, the law called for hospitals to ultimately expand their successful prevention strategies throughout their facilities, but included no designated timeline for implementation. The senator’s bill would expand the law to require state-licensed hospitals to have a prevention program in place for the entire facility, excluding psychiatric care units, within 30 days of the law’s enactment.
“While patients within intensive care units are at high risk for contracting an antibiotic-resistant staph infection because of the nature of their medical conditions, the potential to have contact with MRSA is real in nearly every unit of a health care facility,” Vitale said. “What’s more, this infection, which in its most serious form can be deadly, is both preventable and controllable through the use of basic hygienic practices.”
In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. However, more severe or potentially life-threatening MRSA infections occur most frequently among patients in healthcare settings, where the infection is typically spread from patient to patient on unclean hands of healthcare personnel or through the improper use of equipment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic infection control procedures are key to preventing the spread of MRSA, according to the CDC.