PA nursing homes must report healthcare associated infections

    Pennsylvania says new tracking system will lead to better education for health providers.

    Nursing homes in eastern Pennsylvania must now report the secondary infections that patients acquire when they’re treated for other conditions. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority will collect and analyze the data on healthcare-associated infections.

    Listen:

    [audio:090505tenursing.mp3]

    Experts say the respiratory infections and staph diseases spread in healthcare settings can be especially hard to treat, and are often preventable. Pennsylvania has established a monitoring program to figure out which nursing homes are best at avoiding these transmissions among their patients and staff.

    Mark Miller is regulatory affairs manager for PANPHA. It’s a group of non-profit nursing homes and other senior-service providers. Miller says most association members already have strong infection-control programs.

    Miller: Above that they were already having to report most of these infections to the Department of Health. So we really are seeing this as an administrative nightmare, we are adding more regulations where regulations already exist, which of course only serves to drive up the cost.

    Advocates say the tracking system will better guide education and infection-control efforts across the state.

    Mike Doering leads the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

    Doering:
    Our role is to collect information, conduct analyses and provide training and education. So we are looking at what facilities have the low infection rates, what are they doing and how can we help other facilities to follow the same procedures.

    There’s a rolling start-date for nursing homes to begin reporting infection data. Facilities in eastern Pennsylvania began June 1st, others have until June 22nd.

    A Bucks County geriatrician says the plan will improve patient care. Dr. Daniel Haimowitz says the safety authority will use the information to better educate providers across the state.

    Haimowitz: You know even with the very basics of infection control, like good hand washing, you are going to really help the patients of the nursing homes.

    Haimowitz is in private practice in Levittown and was a consultant on the monitoring program. He says many nursing homes have their own infection control programs but they don’t regularly share their findings and best policies with other facilities.

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