Nevada Legislation Would Require Informing Patients About Infections Acquired During Facility Stay

June 5, 2011

The Nevada Legislature has passed a bill that would require providers to inform patients about infections acquired during a hospital stay.

Senate Bill 339, introduced by Senators Breeden and Wiener was passed by the Nevada Legislature on June 1, 2011 and was delivered to the Governor on June 3. The bill is still awaiting the Governor’s signature.

The bill would revise Chapter 439 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. It contains several provisions aimed at providing patients with various information about facility-acquired infections.  It also imposes certification and educational requirements for infection control personnel and amends the current law pertaining to patient safety plans.

Patient Information About Infections

Under the law, if enacted, medical facilities would be required to provide each patient with general and facility-specific information about facility-acquired infections. This information would have to include (1) the measures used by the facility for preventing infections; (2) information about determining whether a patient had an infection upon admission, risk factors for acquiring infections and determining if an infection has been acquired; (3) information about preventing facility-acquired infections; (4) instructions for reporting facility-acquired infections; and (5) any other information the medical facility deems necessary.

Medical facilities must post in a publicly accessible area of the facility information about reporting of facility-acquired infections, including the contact information for making reports to the Nevada Health Division.

When a healthcare provider confirms that a patient of the medical facility has an infection, the provider is required to inform the patient or the patient’s legal guardian that the patient has an infection. This must be done as soon as possible, but not later than 5 days. There is an exception to this provision if the patient does not have a legal guardian or other person authorized to receive the information and the patient isn’t capable of understanding the information, is not conscious, or in the judgment of the provider, is likely to harm himself or herself if informed about the infection.

Immunity Clause

The bill contains an immunity clause. A person or governmental entity is immune from criminal or civil liability if they inform a patient or legal guardian or other person authorized to receive the information that an infection was not acquired at the medical facility but instead was acquired at another apparent source.

Infection Control Officers

The bill would require medical facilities to designate an officer or employee of the facility to serve as an infection control officer. The designated person has to serve on the facility’s patient safety committee. He or she has to monitor the occurrences of infections to determine the number and severity. That information has to be reported to the patient safety committee. The infection control officer must also take action to prevent and control infections and carry out provisions of the facilities infection control program.

Infection Control Officer Certification

If a medical facility has 175 beds or more, the designated infection control officer would be required by the law to be certified as an infection preventionist. The person is allowed to serve as a certified infection preventionist at more than one facility if the facilities have a common ownership.

If the medical facility designates an infection control officer who is not certified, it must ensure that the person has successfully completed a nationally recognized basic training program in infection control, which may include the program offered by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

The medical facility must ensure that the infection control officer complete at least 4 hours of continuing education each year on topics relating to current practices in infection control and prevention.

The law would require a ratio of at least one employee with the requisite training for every 100 occupied beds.

Patient Safety Plan

Existing Nevada law requires some medical facilities to prepare a patient safety plan and submit of copy of the plan to the Health Division of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services before March of each year. This new bill, if enacted, would require the patient safety plan to include an infection control program to prevent and control infections in the facility. It would require the patient safety plan to be reviewed and updated annually. It would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to post each patient safety plan on the Department’s Internet website.

Click to view a copy of the enrolled bill.

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