26 September 2008

Good news from California

Last night, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an extremely important bill, California SB 1058. The new law, formally called the Medical Facility Infection Control and Prevention Act, requires California hospitals to do MRSA screening on high-risk patients (such as in ICUs, admitted from long-term care facilities, or known to have a previous MRSA infection) and to report their rates for hospital-acquired infections including MRSA to a newly created body with the state Department of Public Health.

This new law puts California in the vanguard of states who are requiring healthcare institutions to count and track MRSA infections. (For a complete list, visit the database maintained by Consumers' Union's Stop Hospital Infections project.) This is vital not only for controlling MRSA, but also simply for helping us to understand how much MRSA is out there. Because MRSA has not been a reportable disease, and is not subject to any national surveillance, state counts like these are one of the best ways of assembling a fuller picture of the bug's spread.

The most important reason to hail the passage of this law, though, is that it represents a memorial to a MRSA victim, and a determination by his survivors that no one else should meet the same fate. SB 1058 is also known as "Nile's Law." Nile is Nile Calvin Moss, who died in 2006. In response, his parents Carole and Ty Moss founded Nile's Project and became tireless advocates for MRSA surveillance and screening. Among other efforts, Carole was appointed by Schwarzenegger to a state commission on hospital-acquired infections, where she is the sole voting member representing health-care consumers.

It is no small thing to step out of your grief and make your loss into a force for change. Carole and Ty Moss deserve congratulations.

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