TMA Letter: SB 620 on Monitoring Preventable Infections

To: Sen. Jane Nelson, chair, and members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee


Date:   March 29, 2011

Re: Senate Bill 620: Relating to the reporting of health care-associated infections by Sen. Jane Nelson

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) strongly supports Senate Bill 620 by Senator Nelson that calls for changes in hospitals’ reporting of health care-associated infection (HAI) information. The changes would allow the state to participate in the National Healthcare Safety Network supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SB 620 would help guarantee a standardized reporting process and conserve precious state dollars.  

With legislative support, Texas was among one of the first states to identify the pressing need to address preventable illnesses associated with health care associated-infections. Thousands of Texas patients suffer annually from preventable illnesses caused by health care-associated infections. And, what’s even more alarming is that these infections kill almost 9,000 Texas patients a year. Texas physicians want to help keep patients safe from these sorts of preventable infections. We also are committed to working with the state to ensure we have a plan to keep patients safe from these types of illnesses.  

An important step is to monitor preventable infections because “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”  

Our physicians were on the state’s HAI Advisory Panel and worked with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to develop the current state HAI reporting system. However, this is just the first step. More work is needed to achieve an effective system. With a critical budget shortfall, there is no better time than now to join a standardized national reporting system. This system would help the state to procure additional state funding for its current HAI reporting system.     

TMA recognizes some hospitals struggle with infection control and reporting today because of the current reporting system. However, physicians believe we need to continue down this path toward an efficient and standardized reporting system — with no exceptions. Texas patients must be confident, regardless of where they receive care, that there are strong  infection surveillance and monitoring systems in place. We recognize some facilities, particularly rural hospitals, may need extra time and support to beef up their infection control programs. We are confident that DSHS and the HAI Advisory Panel can make sure stakeholders are able to participate in the implementation of this legislation.    

SB 620 will ensure that all facilities report in a timely manner. It also will allow us to develop effective prevention protocols and strategies to address HAI in our state. The last thing we want is for our patients to put off seeking care because they fear being exposed to a health care-associated infection. We believe SB 620 makes good sense, and we know it will save the state money. We encourage you to take action in support of SB 620. Our physicians stand committed to helping in its implementation.

82nd Texas Legislature Testimonies