2011-05-12 / Local & State

Hess Asks Health Dept. To Monitor Infections

A proposal authored by Rep. Dick Hess ( R- Bedford/ Fulton/Huntingdon) urges the Pennsylvania Department of Health to revise its disease monitoring regulations to include staph infections acquired during hospital stays as reportable illnesses.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is currently tracked internally at each healthcare facility, and responses and preventative measures are in place to monitor healthcare associated infections (HAI) including MRSA, but there is no requirement to report these to the state Health Department.

“The resolution I have offered has the unanimous backing of the state House. We want the Department of Health to begin treating MRSA as a reportable illness,” said Hess. “I want Health Department regulations updated to require that Community Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) reporting be added to the communicable and noncommunicable diseases being reported. The goal is to further enhance patient safety and decrease the number of healthcare facility infections.”

House Resolution 42 urges expedited regulatory changes in order to monitor and prevent infections. The department currently monitors 73 communicable diseases through various levels of reporting requirements, but MRSA is not one of them.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities have extra sanitary measures in place to lower the risk that health care-associated infections spread to other patients, hospital visitors or staff. While MSRA infections are fairly common, they can be highly resistant to some antibiotics and can lead to invasive diseases of the joints, organs or bloodstream, which can be serious.

“Strengthening our monitoring and reporting regulations will reduce a broader risk of infection in our communities, schools and sports teams, which have increased vulnerability to the spread of CA-MRSA. MRSA has been found to be communicable in correctional facilities,” said Hess. “We want to stem the spread of the disease through increased public awareness.”

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