Infections: Could Your Hospital Be Doing More to Prevent Them?

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Sunday, August 8, 2010

There aren’t many people who enjoy being at a hospital, probably because it means only a few things: either you’ve suffered a health crisis or someone you know has. (Birth is probably one of the few events that makes a hospital visit enjoyable, at least after the baby is born.) With that said, if you conducted a survey, you’d likely discover that the majority considers a hospital one of the most reassuring places to go when there’s something wrong; after all, surrounded by doctors, nurses and all types of equipment, is there any better place to be if your health is in question?

infections with mask Not so fast. According to a recent study, thousands die each year from preventable – yes, preventable – hospital infections. By “hospital infections,” we mean you acquired the infection while in the hospital; it wasn’t your reason for going there in the first place, and it wasn’t an inevitable consequence of your condition. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine earlier this year, suggests 48,000 Americans (a conservative estimate, according to the study authors) die annually from hospital-acquired infections, most of which are attributable to the use of ventilators and catheters.

If you think there’s nothing that can be done, consider that according to Dr. Peter Pronovost, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, these infections can be all but eliminated with simple hygiene measures and a hospital-wide team approach. One can only hope hospitals nationwide are doing everything in their power to make sure 48,000 deaths becomes zero deaths as soon as possible.



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