Death certificates in Illinois will soon reflect what patientsafety advocates say has been a secret killer ” staph infectionsthat are resistant to antibiotics.
Under the new law, health care providers who fill out thecertificates will have to include the presence ofmethicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, andother infections that are resistant to multiple drugs if theycontributed to or caused a death.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law.
Illinois would become the second state after Washington torequire the infections be included on death certificates whenappropriate.
MRSA is a prevalent staph bacteria that can cause skin, ear,nose and throat infections when acquired through close contact “typically in dorms, jails, day care centers and locker rooms.
More serious MRSA infections can occur in hospitalized patientswith compromised immune systems following surgeries or otherprocedures that allow the bacteria to enter the body and causeblood infections and pneumonia.
Hospitals have been working to reduce the number of infectionsthrough improved hygiene but have historically been reluctant toacknowledge their existence through permanent medical records.
While more than half the states, including Illinois andMissouri, require some reporting of hospital-acquired infectionrates, the number of deaths from the infections is still hard totrack.
A federal estimate from 2007 reported close to 100,000infections and 18,650 deaths in the U.S. caused by invasive staphinfections annually.
Advocates say the real numbers are likely much higher, and thereporting on death certificates is a step toward more accuratedata.
“That information is used to direct public funds toward fixingproblems,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s SafePatient Project. “There has never been a documentation formedication errors