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Infection = Felony?

An article in The Journal News highlights an interesting thought concerning healthcare associated infections (HAI).  The article references a New York State bill before the assembly that would make “reckless infection of a patient with a communicable disease by a healthcare provider” a felony. The article sites cases of wanton disregard for patient safety leading to potentially life threatening infections. We all know the drill concerning HAI – poorer outcomes, increased length of stay, increased costs, etc.  My hospitals are once again launching a hand hygiene campaign to reduce HAI – which of course is a good thing. But it is obvious that healthcare workers still are not doing enough.  Some hospitals are starting to fine physicians and employees for failing to wash their hands.  So do you think not washing your hands should result a criminal record?  Okay, I admit the intent of the bill is to punish egregious negligence, but where do you draw the line? What would stop a patient with an HAI from claiming the infection was due to recklessness? Is our failure to police ourselves once again going to come back to haunt us? What do you think? 

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Filed Under: Quality of care


Error: Unable to create directory uploads. Is its parent directory writable by the server? About the Author: William F. Mills, M.D., MMM, CPE, FAAFP, CMSL, is currently the senior vice president of quality and professional affairs for the Upper Allegheny Health System located in western NY. Mills is a graduate of Hahnemann University School of Medicine and completed his family practice residency at the West Jersey Health System. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, and a fellow in the American Academy of Family Physicians. Mills is currently a clinical assistant professor at the School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo. He is also certified in addiction medicine through the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and currently serves as a medical review officer. Prior to transitioning to full-time administrative medicine, Mills spent more than 20 years as a practicing family physician, and more than 10 years as the medical director of a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. He also holds a Master of Medical Management degree from the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California and is a Certified Physician Executive from the Certifying Commission in Medical Management.

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