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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Illinois Legislators Pass Bills to Fight Infections in Nursing Homes

Illinois' state capital of Springfield is always busy this time of the year as the spring legislative sessions comes to a close. If a legislator's bill has a chance of becoming a law it is often "now or never." Fortunately, Illinois legislators have passed to bills that are a part of efforts to make nursing homes and other long-term care facilities accountable for infections. 

House Bill 1096 amends the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The bill provides that a skilled nursing facility must designate an employee as an "Infection Prevention and Control Professional" to develop and implement policies governing control of infections and communicable diseases. The bill also provides that the Infection Prevention and Control Professional's qualifications shall be documented and made available for inspection by the Department of Public Health to ensure that an appropriate person is, in fact, doing this job in the nursing home. If this bill is signed by Gov. Quinn it would become effective on January 1, 2012.

House Bill 1658 amends the Vital Records Act to require the doctor completing the medical certification of cause of death for a death certificate must note the presence of the cause of common infections found in nursing homes on the death certificate. These bacteria include methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clostridium difficile, or vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) if it is a contributing factor to or the cause of death. The bill also provides that additional multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) may be added to the list by the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

Currently, many doctors often put the primary cause of death on the death certificate. A common example of this is when a doctor lists sepsis as the cause of death but does not list the cause of the sepsis. Sepsis occurs when bacteria enters the body and spreads into the bloodstream. Infections from bacteria typically start out on the skin of a nursing home resident before entering the bloodstream through an open wound on the skin. Sepsis requires immediate treatment with progressive antibiotic treatment in a hospital setting. House Bill 1658 would make sure that the secondary or contributing cause, in the case of sepsis the bacteria or "bug" that caused the sepsis, is also put on the death certificate. This way the cause of sepsis could be tracked. 

The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Keating Law Offices have experience handling cases stemming from infections contracted in a nursing home or other long-term care setting. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.