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Unreported Deadly Infection Kills As Many Americans As Traffic Crashes

Currently in New Jersey, hospitals and nursing homes are not required to publicly report Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. C. diff rates have been at all-time highs and legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer aims to curb the spread of the infection.

(Flickr: Army Medicine)

Dancer says he’ll introduce a bill later this month that would require all nursing homes and hospitals to report C. diff infections to the New Jersey Department of Health, which will make the information available to the public and advise hospitals and nursing homes that need to make changes to improve C. diff infection prevention.

“C. diff kills 30,000 people a year in America – nearly as many who die in traffic accidents – yet many cases remain unreported,” explains Dancer. “The first step to improve preventative measures at nursing homes and hospitals is to increase public awareness of the prevalence of this fatal infection.”

People in hospitals and nursing homes are particularly susceptible to C. diff and the infection has reached record-high rates in recent years (approximately 500,000 new cases a year in America). Rates for virtually every other healthcare-related infection have decreased. Only a handful of states require public reports of C. diff cases by hospitals and even fewer require reports from nursing homes.

Dancer says, “Many healthcare facilities have stopped short of the necessary steps to stop the spread of C. diff, including keeping patients’ rooms clean. I believe shining a light on this problem will prompt facilities to take appropriate and proactive measures to combat this deadly threat.”

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