Committee hears bills to prevent MRSA, give public more access to hospitals
April 7, 2009
AUGUSTA – The Health and Human Services Committee heard lengthy testimony Tuesday from health care professionals, former patients and family members on legislation that would make hospitals safer by requiring guidelines to reduce the number of cases of MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.
Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, presented LD 1038, which would require Maine hospitals to follow the 2008 Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America guidelines for preventing the transmission of the “super bug,” which is now thought to kill more Americans each year than HIV/AIDS. Hospitals in Pennsylvania have adopted the guidelines and have significantly reduced their rates of MRSA, Goode said. The bill’s other requirements include ensuring hospitals clean equipment used on MRSA patients.
“I do firmly believe that no patient who spends time in a hospital should walk away with an entirely new health problem, let alone fail to walk away from that hospital because they contracted an infection that cost their life,” Goode said in his testimony to the committee.
Hospitals currently are not required to screen and report MRSA patients. This results in patients entering hospitals and acquiring MRSA.
Representatives of the Maine AFL-CIO, AARP, Consumers for Affordable Health Care and Maine State Employees Association testified in favor of the legislation.
The committee also heard a similar bill proposed by retired physician Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, and will consider the legislation together.
Goode presented a second bill to the committee that would require hospitals that receive more than $250,000 a year in public funds to comply with the state’s freedom of access laws. The bill, LD 757, would give members of the public access to how funds are being spent and allow them to sit in on hospital board meetings. Confidential patient records would remain confidential.
“If hospitals receive large amounts of taxpayer dollars, then our citizens should be allowed access to their meetings,” said Goode.
Both bills are scheduled for a committee work session at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 9. At that time, the committee may vote on its recommendation for passage.
Rep. Adam Goode, 991-7000
Lori Eschholz, legislative aide, 287-1430
Kyle Leighton, communications director, 287-1433