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Kentucky Health Department Proposes New Regulations For Reporting Infections

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The Kentucky Department for Public Health is proposing new regulations for reporting infections patients contract from healthcare facilities while receiving treatment.

Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said the infections are often caused by multidrug-resistant organisms that make infections more difficult to treat. He said the bacterial infections caused by those organisms threaten the safety of patients at hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices and elsewhere.

"They can develop anywhere that health care is provided in the system," he said.

In 2013, Kentucky launched 9,689 investigations of what the state calls health care associated infections, or HAI. According to a government database, those investigations included:

  • 1,195 cases of influenza isolates
  • 683 cases of campylobacteriosis
  • 562 cases of salmonellaosis
  • 499 cases of pertussis

Currently, HAIs are only reportable as "outbreaks" and reports can be made to either the state or local health department. 

"The ultimate goal for us in public health is prevention and control of acute diseases, and that's why we ask for this type of reporting," Humbaugh said.

"We already have a regulation in place, but right now it only requires health care facilities to report outbreaks that occur in their facilities and the new regulation is going to change some of that a bit."

The proposal:

  • Redefines HAIs and HAI Outbreaks
  • Mandates simultaneous data reporting to both the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the state Department for Public Health
  • Requires electronic reporting of positive laboratory tests for certain MDROs via the Kentucky Information Exchange beginning Oct. 16, 2016 

Under the new regulation, specific HAIswould be reportable when the law goes into effect through the National Healthcare Safety Network.

"In the past we  haven't asked that specific health care associated infections be reported. We're one of the minority of states that currently don't have any mandated reporting of specific health care associated infections. This regulation will change that," Humbaugh said.

The revised regulation defines HAI Outbreak as two or more HAIs that are epidemiologically linked or connect by a person, place or time, or a single case of an HAI not commonly diagnosed.

An HAI would be defined as an infection acquired by a person while receiving treatment for a separate condition in a health care setting.

He said that the new regulation is really for the health care facilities, providers and laboratories.

"We want to streamline the reporting mechanism, make the reporting more consistent with what's going on nationally and we're also interested in getting more and better data on health care associated infections," Humbaugh said. 

The proposal is open for public comment until Dec. 1.

Copyright 2014 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Ja'Nel Johnson covers community health for WFPL News.
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