Health Reform Bill Features Healthcare-Associated Infections Database

Heather Comak, for HealthLeaders Media , July 21, 2009

Debate continues surrounding the healthcare legislation that is currently being pored over by members of Congress.

However, one part of the healthcare reform that has not been a sticking point, but is important in the world of patient safety, is the requirement of a national reporting system for healthcare-associated infections. One piece of healthcare reform legislation, H.R. 3200, includes a provision that would require all hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to report data concerning healthcare-associated infections to a database that already exists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a condition of their participation with Medicare and Medicaid.

A group of healthcare organizations sent a letter to Congress Monday, urging the adoption of H.R. 3200. These groups include The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), and the Trust for America's Health (TFAH).

"Overall–this is a win for patients," said APIC 2009 President Christine J. Nutty, RN, MSN, CIC. "Public reporting of HAIs may drive further improvement in healthcare processes, which will reduce infections, save lives, and preserve healthcare dollars. We are pleased that the House bill would also address the need for highly trained staff to effectively implement the system."

The organizations hope that a national database of HAIs, run through the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network, would help improve transparency, as well as reduce rates of infections.

"Using CDC's network means that everyone will be looking for the same information in the same way," said Mark E. Rupp, MD, president of SHEA. "This approach for HAI reporting will be a more accurate way to compare local and national infection rates and trends. This will give us the science base we need to better prevent HAIs." HAIs, which reportedly claim 99,000 lives annually, cost $20 billion in extra healthcare dollars.

The groups also want H.R. 3200 amended to include language about antimicrobial resistant organisms. Earlier this year, the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act was submitted to Congress to build new strategies for addressing multiple drug-resistant organisms.

Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals. Contact Heather by e-mailing

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