A proposed California bill would require providers to report deaths caused by antimicrobial-resistant infections, also known as superbugs.
The legislation, introduced Monday by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Francisco), would allow the state to monitor and track deaths related to antimicrobial-resistant infections. California would be the first state in the nation to establish such a system if the bill passes.
Under the proposed bill, a California physician or surgeon would be required to state on a patient's certificate of death if any antimicrobial-resistant infection contributed to the patient's death.
Participating facilities, including clinical laboratories, would then have to submit a report every year to the California Department of Public Health that shows how many patients died as a result of superbugs and the type of infection that caused their death. Healthcare providers also would have to include in the report how many patients test positive for the infections.
The department would then compile the findings from the providers and post results on its website. The public will not have access to facility-specific information.
“We cannot hope to effectively combat superbug infections without such critical information,” Hill said in a statement. “What we don't know can kill us.”
The proposed law comes as federal and global agencies have expressed heightened concern about the rise of antimicrobial-resistant infections. The United Nations General Assembly met in September to discuss the issue, marking only the fourth time the group has met to discuss a health crisis.
Health experts have warned that overprescribing and developing lucrative drugs over cheaper antibiotics has led to a rise in antibiotic resistance. The World Health Organization compared the issue to "a slow-motion tsunami."
An estimated 23,000 people die each year in the U.S. as a result of antimicrobial infections, and about 2 million people become ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.