TMA Testimony by Michael Krol, MD
House Human Services Committee
House Bill 1848 by Rep. Stephanie Klick
March 12, 2019
Chairman Frank and Committee Members, thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of House Bill 1848 on behalf of the Texas Medical Association, with its nearly 53,000 physician and medical student members, as well as the Texas Public Health Coalition and its 37 member organizations. My name is Dr. Michael Krol, and I am a geriatric specialist here in central Texas. I am happy to be here not only representing TMA, but also advocating for the vulnerable and aging long-term care patients that I see and take care of every day.
Long-term care facilities are home to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, including the elderly and those with serious, acute, or chronic illnesses. These facilities are typically close living quarters, with heavy in-and-out traffic from visitors, which leave medically fragile residents susceptible to multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), influenza, and other infectious diseases. During the 2017-2018 influenza season, 11,917 Texans lost their lives to pneumonia and influenza, and 76 percent of those who died were long-term care residents age 65 or older. Furthermore, 75 percent of Texas’ reported flu outbreaks occurred in a long-term care facility.
Antibiotic resistance, especially in long-term care facilities, is a serious and escalating public health threat, with an estimated 23,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. Approximately 20 million MDRO infections occur annually,i costing us an estimated $20 billion a year. MDRO infections increase patient complications, lengthen hospital stays, worsen health outcomes, and drive costs even higher.i, The Texas Department of State Health Services has recognized that managing MDROs is an urgent issue and antimicrobial stewardship is essential statewide. Antimicrobial stewardship is a coordinated program that promotes the appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, with an effort to reduce microbial resistance and prevent MDRO infections.
TMA supports House Bill 1848 with hopes that this bill can help prevent last year’s influenza season and countless infectious disease deaths from happening again by lessening the spread and severity of an outbreak. Long-term care infection control programs will be established so that key infectious agents such as MDROs and flu will be monitored. Rapid flu testing procedures at every long-term care facility will help detect flu quickly before it can spread to other residents; and antimicrobial stewardship regional advisory committees across the state will be created, combining the expertise of physicians, nurses, and public health officials in the collective effort to control MDROs.
Residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are our parents, grandparents, family members, and friends. They are my patients. TMA is ready to work with this committee in protecting our loved ones from harmful and deadly infectious diseases.
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