The Illinois legislature has passed, and the governor has signed, legislation requiring the screening of hospital patients for drug-resistant staph infections. The MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) infections infect over a million patients and kill tens of thousands every year. MRSA is the most common infection acquired in hospitals and Illinois is leading the nation in confronting the controversial issue. The law becomes effective immediately. Hospitals are now required to test all patients in intensive care units for MRSA and isolate patients with the bacteria. The bill was controversial because some hospital infection control practitioners claimed it would hinder response times to emergency threats. The same group introduced legislation requiring hospitals to prevent the spread of infection by analyzing which infections posed the most risks at different facilities. Although this bill was intended to replace the MRSA bill, both were passed into law. Fortunately for patients, the bills are aimed at protecting patients from unnecessarily contracting dangerous infections in hospitals.
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