Law change: Hospitals must adopt pathogen policy for 2023

May 26, 2022

The Washington State Legislature passed an important law change for hospitals this year. HB 1739 (2022) requires hospitals to adopt a policy on the prevention and control of the transmission of pathogens of epidemiological concern by Jan. 1, 2023. The policy adopted by hospitals must contain a facility risk assessment and appropriate evidence-based procedures to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens.

Modernizing the previous MRSA prevention requirements (RCW 70.41.430) with HB 1739 was a key piece of WSHA’s 2022 policy agenda. WSHA received consistent feedback from members that the MRSA requirements did not allow flexibility as science evolved and the law needed to be modernized. The new law was developed by a WSHA workgroup comprised of leaders from Washington’s Puget Sound Chapter of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), infectious disease doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

HB 1739 passed the legislature unanimously, and RCW 70.41.430 now includes general provisions addressing pathogens of epidemiological concern, which encompasses MRSA instead of being MRSA-specific. We are ecstatic that the outdated requirements have been removed and replaced with more flexible provisions. This change in law recognizes hospitals’ need to respond to pathogens posing the highest risk to their facilities that may differ at times across the state.

Click here to read WSHA’s bulletin on the new law. On June 8, WSHA will host a webinar on this law change that will cover the law’s provisions and next steps for compliance. The webinar will feature subject experts who worked on the bill along with representatives from the Washington State Department of Health, followed by time for question and answer. Registration for the webinar is available here.


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