ANNAPOLIS – A bill to required Maryland hospitals and nursing homes to screen incoming patients for antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been defeated in the face of opposition from the hospital industry.
The measure was intended to stop the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in healthcare facilities. It would have required 69 hospitals and 240 nursing homes throughout the state to check if incoming patients carried certain antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and to isolate patients that tested positive.
But the bill met with resistance from hospital representatives, who said they were concerned about the cost of screening patients and the proposed hygienic guidelines, which were different from those suggested by the Centers for Disease Control.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, D-Baltimore, said that preventing an illness through screening would save money in the long run by avoiding the high costs of treating resistant infections.
The Senate Finance Committee voted 8-3 to give the bill an unfavorable report, which dooms it for this session of the General Assembly.
About two million people contract infections after they enter a hospital every year, and of those 90,000 die from the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of the bacteria that cause those diseases, 70 percent are resistant to antibiotics.
“This is a problem today,” Gladden said.
A legislative analysis of the bill predicted that about 40 percent of people tested would have one of the targeted infections.
Gladden plans to reintroduce the measure next year. “It’s visionary, it’s where you want to see yourself in five years,” she said of the bill. 3-24-2005