California Mandates Reporting of Drug-Resistant Infections
On Thursday, Department of Public Health Director Mark Horton ordered California health care facilities to begin reporting severe cases of community-acquired staph infections that resulted in death or admission to intensive care units, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/15).
Gilberto Chavez, a state epidemiologist, said the reporting mandate applies to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, a strain that is resistant to antibiotics.
However, the rules do not require reporting of the 85% of antibiotic-resistant staph cases that originate in a health care facility, drawing criticism from consumer advocates (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 2/15).
Chavez said the state is focusing on infections that originated outside of hospitals and nursing homes because less is known about how to protect the public in such cases.
Health care providers will report the cases to local health departments, which will send the data to state officials (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 2/15). A state lab will use the data to determine the strains (Hagedorn, Bakersfield Californian, 2/14).
Chavez said the goal is to collect data on the circumstances surrounding each infection case, as well as the patient's:
- Age; and
- Geographic location (Contra Costa Times, 2/15).
Kathy Warye, CEO of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, criticized the reporting rule's limitation to community-acquired cases, arguing that health care-associated "infections are far more prevalent and far more deadly" because they are more resistant to antibiotics than strains acquired in community settings.
Chavez maintained that an advisory committee is working to develop recommendations for reporting general hospital-acquired infections (Sacramento Bee, 2/15).
Meanwhile, Debby Rogers, vice president of quality and emergency services for the California Hospital Association, said the infection rates cannot be reported as "a straight number" because they are influenced by varying factors, including the size of the facility, patient load and severity of illnesses (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 2/15).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Friday reported on the new rules. The segment includes comments from Chavez (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 2/15).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.