Washington State Passes Two Bills That Increase Infection Control, Safety Standards in Hospitals
Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) on Tuesday signed into law two bills that aim to strengthen hospital infection control and patient-safety standards, the Seattle Times reports. One bill authorizes state health regulators to conduct unscheduled inspections of hospitals. Previously, hospitals have received four weeks' notice of inspections, including the exact time of the inspectors' arrival. The inspections will begin in August.
In addition, hospitals by Jan. 1, 2010, must begin screening at-risk patients for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections. The law requires hospitals to screen high-risk and intensive care patients within the first 24 hours of hospital admission. If confirmed, hospitals will have to notify all patients of the MRSA diagnosis and provide information about MRSA prevention and treatment. Hospitals also will be required to disclose isolation policies to all hospital patients.
The legislation was drafted in response to two investigative series by the Times that found that hospitals routinely ignored steps to control MRSA and that hospitals performed "makeovers" prior to inspections (Berens, Seattle Times, 4/29).