I have written about MRSA before because a close family member had it a few years ago and it was extremely serious. Today, The Seattle Times has started another investigative series this time on this subject dealing with how most Washington State hospitals do not screen all patients (this is done through a cheek swab and costs approximately $20) "so that people with the germ can be isolated from other patients and treated." The article is entitled "How our Hospitals Unleased an Epidemic" by Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong.
"The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that invasive MRSA infections claim at least 18,000 lives a year, more than AIDS." "The nation's most aggressive MRSA screening program is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). All patients are tested at 155 VA medical centers, including five in this state." "Outside the VA system, several Washington hospitals have adopted aggressive MRSA screening and isolation policies--for example Seattle Children's hospital."
I would highly recommend everyone read the article--it is part of a series and have another article on Monday and Tuesday. The most important thing I got out of it is that if you are going to have elective surgery besure to have the screening before doing so.
The second installment entitled: After Deadly Outbreaks, Hospital Slow to Change
The third installment entitled: Patients Revolt Against Hospital Secrecy, Inaction
In this last installment the article says Washington State
"passed its own report-card act in spring 2007. But hospitals have to report only one kind of infection this year: bloodstream maladies in patients who receive a central-line intravenous hookup. The report card will add a second type of infection next year, and a third by 2010. But MRSA is not among them.
Twice before, report-card legislation had died in Washington, after drawing fierce opposition from the hospital industry. The current measure represents a compromise or a first step, said state Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, who sponsored the bill.
In Washington, MRSA has been linked to 1,217 deaths in the past decade, a Seattle Times analysis of hospital records shows. At least 23,707 hospital patients have been diagnosed with MRSA infections.
One Seattle hospital estimates that it costs $20,000 to treat a MRSA infection. Using that figure, MRSA's financial toll in Washington exceeds $474 million.
In the report-card bill, Washington lawmakers had included $240,000 for state health officials to investigate MRSA outbreaks, establish surveillance programs and educate health-care workers and the public about stopping the germ's spread.
The Washington Hospital Association supported the measure, which would have allotted public money to address MRSA.
But Gov. Christine Gregoire stripped the provision out, along with all kinds of other spending items. Her veto notes called the measure "valuable" but "not essential to do right now."
My conclusion is that the voter's in this state must get every lawmaker they can on board to insist that all of the hospitals do screening for MRSA, isolate patients that test positive, and use the precautions and recommendations that do eradicate MRSA. People are dying of MRSA and it is preventable.
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