Strengthening Patient Safety

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has introduced “The Patient Safety Improvement Act”. A previous version of the Act was introduced in 2016.  The legislation seeks to reduce Healthcare Associated Infections” (HAI) and preserve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics.

“Healthcare associated infections are a vexing challenge since they are dangerous for patients, difficult for doctors to treat, and costly for the entire healthcare system,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We can prevent these infections by taking steps to improve the coordination of patient care and to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.”

The legislation includes new measures to improve safety for pediatric patients and to encourage better transitions of care across multiple healthcare settings and providers. The bill would improve the way our healthcare system addresses HAIs and antibiotic stewardship.

The bill would establish a grant program to support collaborations between healthcare stakeholders like Rhode Island’s ICU Collaborative, to focus on evidence-based regional approaches to infection prevention, control, and reporting.

The bill would also establish a grant program to help states develop antimicrobial stewardship action plans to educate providers and patients on the appropriate use of antibiotics and ways to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The bill directs CDC to conduct workshops in states or regions with the highest rates for prescribing antibiotics.

A new section of the legislation aims to improve safety in pediatric care through the creation of a Pediatric Safety Advisory Council to introduce stronger reporting requirements for infections in children’s hospitals. The goal would be to establish a pilot program to test coordinated care for young adults transitioning from pediatric to adult care.

The legislation includes an authorization to provide grants for improving communication between healthcare providers when a patient leaves a hospital for another facility such as a nursing home. During transitions of care, it is important that the entire healthcare team know if a patient has acquired a healthcare associated infection.

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