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New Law Requires Reporting of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Under a new law, Alabama hospitals and other health care facilities will be required to report infections their patients acquire to the state health department, a move that will hopefully lead to fewer infections.

The Mike Denton Infection Reporting Act (SB 89) was introduced by Sen. Bobby Denton, D, and was named in memory of his son. Mike Denton died in 2002 at age 42 of a staph infection that developed after a knee replacement. The bill was among those supported by AARP Alabama during the legislative session.
Under the new law, a program administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) will require the reporting and collection of data on hospital-acquired patient infections and the submission of certain patient infection data by health care facilities.

Confidential patient medical records are protected from public disclosure, but comprehensive reports of patient infection rates from health care facilities around the state would be made public by the ADPH.
The bill also created the Health Care Data Advisory Council, which will assist the ADPH in the creation of Rules and regulations governing the implementation of the program.

For Denton, passage of the bill was a legislative and a personal victory.

“We were not aware that this was as prevalent as it is until the death of our son,” Denton said. After discovering that no laws tracked or monitored hospital infections, Denton began efforts to pass legislation.

“It took us four or five years to get it passed, but we pursued this project in memory of our son. We know that this will make a difference and will save a lot of lives,” Denton said.

According to some estimates, as many as 1.7 hospital-acquired infections may occur nationwide each year, and can be linked to as many as 100,000 deaths. With the passage of the Denton Reporting Act, Alabama joins 28 other states with reporting laws on the books, according to Consumers Union.

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