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200 Americans Die from Hospital-Acquired Infection Daily

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Washington, DCIt’s a sad reality that a facility dedicated to making you well can instead make you sick. It could even kill you. Of course, we are talking about hospitals and the potential to contract a serious, even life-threatening hospital infection. The good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, is that the situation is slowly improving.

The bad news, however, is that hospital-acquired infections are still a major problem, with more than 200 Americans needlessly perishing every day of the year, due to infection in the hospital.

And it’s not an infection you came in with. Rather, it’s an infection that nips you when you get there - due primarily to sanitation issues in hospitals, together with poor hand hygiene on the part of hospital staff dedicated to your care.

Incidents of infection and various statistics related to infection in the hospital were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and culled from data obtained from 183 US hospitals for 2011. According to the data, infections related to pneumonia and surgical sites were the most prevalent, coming in at 22 percent. Bloodstream infections were the lowest, at 10 percent.

Of the germs causing those hospital-acquired infections, C. difficile was the most prevalent at 12 percent. But staph infections, including Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA infection (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), come a close second at 11 percent.

A hospital MRSA infection (sometimes referred to as MRSA staff infection) is extremely serious, given - as the name suggests - the infection’s resistance to common drugs used to treat staph infections. And while the rates are on the decline, infections related to MRSA and C. difficile are declining much more slowly.

When it happens, hospitals treat such incidents of C. difficile and hospital MRSA very seriously, imposing quarantines and locking down entire wards - and shutting out visitors - in an effort to mitigate the infection. And with good reason: C. difficile and MRSA
infection can be deadly.

75,000 Americans died in 2011 from hospital-acquired infection

The tragic aspect of all this - and the foundation for legal implications - is that many of these infections are passed along by hospital staff observing poor hand-washing practices.

“The most advanced medical care won’t work if clinicians don’t prevent infections through basic things such as regular hand hygiene,” said Tom Frieden, CDC Director, in comments published by msn.com (03/26/14).

“Although there has been some progress, today and every day more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay.”

For 2011, the CDC determined there to be 721,800 infections suffered by 648,000 hospital patients. The data suggests that for some patients, more than one hospital infection was involved.

Of that number, about 75,000 patients died in the hospital, due to hospital-acquired infections.

In a separate report, the CDC noted that progress is being made, given procedures and protocols implemented by the hospital community, amidst an ongoing drive to improve sanitation and the hygiene habits of health care workers that are thought to play a part in hospital-acquired infections.

For example, the CDC reports that bloodstream infections were down 44 percent in a four-year period ending in 2012. In the same time frame, infections in hospitals related to 10 selected surgical procedures declined 20 percent.

In comparison, the two most serious infections - hospital staph infection (MRSA) and C. difficile, declined only four percent and two percent respectively from 2011 to 2012, according to msn.com.

Patrick Conway, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), touted gains in hospital infection reduction as significant. “This progress represents thousands of lives saved, prevented patient harm, and the associated reduction in costs across our nation,” he said, in comments posted in the msn.com report.

And yet, according to the CDC, more than 200 Americans die every day in hospitals from hospital-acquired infections they didn’t bring with them when they arrived. Little wonder there is such a huge potential for hospital infection lawsuits, brought by plaintiffs following the needless death of a loved one, just because someone forgot to wash their hands…

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READER COMMENTS

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My father died in the hospital from infection that became a large bed soar that the doctor had to operate on.

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