As reported by the Los Angeles Times, a new bill being introduced by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) would require California hospitals to report outbreaks of superbugs. According to Sen. Hill, “We have a crisis on our hands. The growth of antibiotic resistance threatens our very way of life.” At this time, hospitals in California are not required to report all superbug infections. State law only requires hospitals to report a small number of hospital-acquired infections. The reporting requirements do not include many of the deadliest superbug infections, including the deadly CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) superbug. Approximately one-half of the people who contract CRE die from the infection. State officials estimate that up to 9,000 Californians die each year from hospital-acquired infections. This number could be significantly lower. If Sen. Hill’s bill passes, it will add another two dozen drug-resistant infections, including CRE, to the list of superbugs that California hospitals must report. Hill claims the bill is needed to ensure that health officials can measure the problem with superbugs to work on ways to try to stop deaths from these infections.
A recent paper published in The BMJ, from researches at the Johns Hopkins University, reveals that medical errors are the third cause of death in the United States. According to one of the researchers, Dr. Martin Makary, “Collectively, the problem of medical care gone wrong kills a substantial number of people in the United States.” Dr. Makary and his colleague concluded that medical errors cause 9.5 percent of all deaths in the United States. Their conclusions are based on their review of U.S. death rate data. Over 251,000 people die each year in the United States from medical errors.