A California lawmaker this week introduced legislation that would establish the nation’s first statewide system to track illnesses and deaths attributed to antibiotic-resistant infections.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the bill, authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would require doctors to record on death certificates whether so-called “superbugs” played a role.
It would also direct medical facility testing labs to provide an annual summary of their findings to state officials and require the state to publish an annual report on superbug infections and deaths.
Hill told the paper that the information would allow state officials to identify trends and establish preventative measures. Individual hospitals reportedly would not be named in the publicly available reports.
Hill said that 23,000 people in the U.S. — including 3,000 in California — are estimated to die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, and the Times noted that the numbers are unclear because infections acquired within hospitals or nursing homes often aren’t listed on publicly available death certificates.
“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.”