Hospitals Work To Comply With New Law on Infections
California hospitals are facing pressure from nationwide initiatives and a new state law to improve hygiene standards and prevent hospital-acquired infections, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
A state law signed in September 2006 (SB 739) will require hospitals to adopt measures to prevent hospital-acquired infections. The law also requires hospitals to follow CDC-approved guidelines and submit data to the National Healthcare Safety Network. Provisions of the law will take effect in January 2008 and January 2009.
Dr. Michael Gropper, director of critical care medicine at UC-San Francisco Medical Center, said the deaths can be prevented through better hygiene by physicians and nurses, as cited in clinical studies at Johns Hopkins University and other institutes.
Technology upgrades and better hygiene practices at UCSF have reduced the rate of infections from 45 cases and 16 patient deaths in 2004 to 22 infections and eight patient deaths in 2006. Total costs from the infections over the same period reduced from $3.6 million to $1.76 million, according to Gropper.
Practicing better hygiene includes washing hands more frequently, using catheters with antimicrobial agents, improving air ventilation systems and using stronger soaps and cleaning agents.
However, changes in hygiene practices are difficult to enforce because many workers do not follow through in their daily routines, according to the Business Times.
Philip Madvig -- associate executive director of the Permanente Medical Group, which represents all of Kaiser's Northern California physicians -- said the hospital system is introducing more stringent hygiene standards in less-intensive hospital units by installing washing stations in or near all patient rooms (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 1/26).