How can the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government health officials track Superbug outbreaks when hospitals are not required to report antibiotic- resistant bacteria outbreaks? The answer is they can’t. The state of Florida took the first step towards correcting this problem. Rep. Janet Adkins took the lead on this initiative by sponsoring a bill which requires the state health department to maintain and report any type of Superbug outbreak that occurs within the state.
Currently, hospitals and long term care facilities are reluctant to report any Superbug outbreaks for fear of bad press and ruined reputations. But this causes unnecessary risks to other patients’ health. Patients who are scheduled for surgeries are now put at risk if there is an outbreak and it is not reported. These patients if given disclosure of the current outbreak could very easily postpone their operations until the threat is over or schedule their appointments at another facility. If the new bill passed, patients would be given this chance to protect their health and avoid contacting a life-threatening Superbug.
Republican Rep. Janet Adkins became inspired to push the bill forward after watching FRONTLINE’s Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria. “When I saw the program it really highlighted to me just how important this issue is,” she told FRONTLINE. “Especially with Florida’s high population of elderly [people]…With more information, seniors in particular can make better choices about scheduling elective surgeries, such as hip replacements”, she said.
The bill was filed on March 21. Unfortunately, the bill was not pushed further than the Health & Human Services Committee meeting on Friday, May 2, 2014. It looks like Florida along with the rest of the country is not ready to hold our health care facilities accountable for the general public’s safety. Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious disease doctor at Harbor – UCLA Medical Center, sums up nicely the sentiments of many Floridians and general public with this statement, “It is frankly embarrassing that we as a country do not know where resistance is occurring, how bad the problem is for various organisms or who’s using what antibiotics when”. Hopefully, with the public’s persistence we can get this bill once more championed through to be voted upon. Until then, we are all at risk of superbug infections in health care facilities.
Childress, Sarah. “Florida Bill Would Combat Superbug Threat.” PBS. March 28, 2014. Accessed August 11, 2014.