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New Laws in California Set Sights on Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections

In a California Healthline Special Report by Deirdre Kennedy, a state health official and a legislator discussed two new laws that took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, that require California hospitals to take steps aimed at improving their efforts to track and control hospital-acquired infections, including the so-called superbug MRSA — methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose); and
  • Kathleen Billingsley, deputy director of the state Department of Public Health’s Center for Health Care Quality.

Hospital-acquired infections, such as MRSA, are blamed for more than 9,000 deaths each year in California and cost the health care system more than $3 billion to treat. According to statistics from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, MRSA rates in California have surpassed the national average.

“We believe the new laws will create much greater accountability within hospitals,” Billingsley said. “We believe we are responding very effectively to the overall desire of the public … to make sure that hospitals are putting in the preventive measures that they should be doing and basically mandate better infection control policies” (Kennedy, California Healthline, 1/5).

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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