Hospital-Acquired Infections: 1 in 25 Patients Becomes Infected While in the Hospital

I know several people who went into the hospital for a routine surgery, came through the surgery just fine, and then died from an infection they had gotten while in the hospital.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me angry.

Hospitals and doctor’s offices (not to mention dentists) need to beef up their sterile procedures, beginning with washing their hands between every single patient. When you see a doctor look down someone’s throat and then not wash their hands afterwards, you are looking at an infection-carrier.

It turns out that the people I’ve known who died from hospital-acquired infections are not alone. According to a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 25 patients who went into a hospital in 2011 come out with a hospital-acquired infection. That means 721,800 people were infected by germs they encountered while they were in the hospital. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, about 75,000 people died from hospital-acquired infections.

This rate of infection is evidently down from past years. In 2002, there were 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections and 155,668 deaths. Getting down to 75,000 deaths is quite a reduction, and hospitals are to be applauded for the changes they’ve made. But 75,000 deaths in one year from hospital-acquired infections is still totally unacceptable.

It may be necessary for patients to start reminding medical personnel to wash their hands, since they are not doing it on their own. As for other sterile procedures, particularly surgical sterile procedures;  if they aren’t washing their hands (and they aren’t) then what else are they not doing?

The families and friends of 75,000 people who die each year would like to know.

From CNN:

(CNN) – About 1 in every 25 patients seeking treatment at hospitals acquired an infection there in 2011, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients acquired some 721,800 infections at hospitals that year, according to the research. Of those infected, about 75,000 died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — although the study did not investigate how often an infection actually caused or contributed to the patient’s death.

Pneumonia and surgical-site infections were the most common types of infection — each accounting for about 22% of all infections — followed by gastrointestinal infections such as Clostridium difficile, urinary tract infections and infections of the bloodstream.

While highlighting the grim reality that too many people become infected when seeking medical treatment in hospitals and other health care facilities, the study also shows progress from past estimates.

First Day of the Year of Faith and I’ve Swiped My Mother’s Wheel Chair

Today is the first day of the Year of Faith.

I began this auspicious year by swiping my 87-year-old mother’s wheel chair.

It all started when I ran out of Diet Coke. I was eating lunch. I drained my glass of Diet Coke. So, I picked up the empty Coke can and a bag of chips I wanted to put away and a glass I wanted to fill with more ice and a couple of other things I can’t remember now. I planned to get another can of Coke and come back to finish my lunch.

I stepped out onto the perilous carpet of my house. And my foot slid. I turned one ankle, tried to right myself, turned the other ankle and went down. Hard. I went down hard.

Chips were everywhere. It looked like a chip snowfall. But my major problem was my left foot. The top of it was all dented in and looking weird … and it hurt. It hurt enough that for the first time I kind of understood those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials.

I crawled — literally — to the refrigerator, opened the freezer door (we have a side-by-side fridge) and pulled out some of those freezer dealies you put in your lunch bag to keep your food cold. I put those on the foot and the pain moved back a bit.

Then, I called my husband. “I broke my foot,” I said. “You’ve got to come home and drive me to the hospital.”

And that is how I came to swipe my mother’s wheel chair.

I have two broken bones in my foot that are split and moved all over from where they should be. The hospital put me in a sort of cast and scheduled me for surgery for next Monday. Then they sent me home with pain pills and a dire warning not to stand on, bang or even jar my foot for fear of moving the bones further out of place and making my injuries worse.

Neato.

I’m sleeping on the sofa (Two-story house; can’t get upstairs) and paddling around with my mother’s wheelchair. It’s not all that bad, unless I move the foot the wrong way, which I’ve learned NOT to do. Me and the ice pack? We’re best buds.

So what does this have to do with the Year of Faith?

Just this: I went to a Catholic hospital built by nuns in the last century to provide health care for anyone who needed it. This hospital has the distinction of not turning people away because they can’t pay for care. I’ve counseled women who were abortion-minded, and part of the reason was a fear of the costs of the medical care involved in having the baby. This hospital provided them with free care.

I remember a few years ago, doing an intake for a woman who had come in, wanting free medical care for her pregnancy. This woman had a rough past and was a confirmed, out-spoken, Catholic hater. The whole time I was filling out the forms and setting her up for free medical care from a Catholic hospital, she was railing at me about the Church. She threw off insults with every breath.

I didn’t rail back at her. I just filled out the forms and sent her along to have her baby with the care and love of a Church that she despises.

I’m talking about my Church; the Catholic Church. The Church that has built hospitals, schools, runs charities and helps people all over the world. In my work as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I help a lot of desperate people. Oftentimes, the government has no agency or program that can help them. They just fall through the cracks. These are often the most needy people I see.

My first call when that happens is to the Catholic Church, to one of the many programs, agencies, charities the Church runs for people like these.

If I need shelter for a homeless woman, the Church will take her in. If I need to find medical care for the working poor, the Church is there. If some destitute soul needs free legal help, the Church can help. Counseling? Go to the Church.

That, my friends, is faith with legs. (No pun intended.)  It is faith that talks louder than words, that means more than good wishes. Look around you. Look at the universities, hospitals, charities; all built by the hands of Catholics, living their faith.

This is the first day of the Year of Faith. I got a good lesson in living faith yesterday by way of excellent medical care that was given to me by people who also took the time to explain, be gentle and go the extra mile to make things easier for me.

For that I thank them and the many generations of Catholics who went before them and made these things possible.

I am sitting here in my living room, propped up like the Lady of the Manor on my recliner with my ice packs, my laptop, ipad, cell phone, Kindle, pain pills and a thermos of ice water.  I have a remote on the chair arm and a big screen tv awaits my signal to start entertaining me. If you’ve gotta have a broken foot, this is how to do it.

I’m also relaxed. I know I have good doctors. But more importantly, I know that I am, as always, in God’s hands. There’s nothing to fear when you’re on the Jesus, Joseph and Mary team. Whatever happens, be it good or bad, I am safe in His plan.

Make the most of this Year of Faith, my friends. Grow in grace.

Death to the Different?

Thomas L. McDonald over at God and the Machine wrote a great article earlier this week, Should Autism Be a Death Sentence?

He raises the serious question of who gets advanced health care in an age of rationing. The article centers around the plight of Paul Corby, a young man who suffers from autism and a potentially fatal heart condition. The question: Does autism disqualify Paul from receiving a heart transplant?

This leads us into the uncomfortable who-dies/who-lives decisions that “ethicists” toss around. Only this isn’t a hypothetical for Paul Corby and his family. It’s life and death.

Thomas L. McDonald’s excellent article says in part:

Paul Corby is 23, autistic, and suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition called left ventricular noncompaction. He’s high-functioning enough to have written and self-published a novel for pre-teens, but he also has severe social problems, is prone to emotional outbursts, and suffers from various psychological and developmental issues. He spends much of his day playing video games and never goes anywhere without a stuffed Princess Peach doll. Although he needs 19 different medications (many of them for his heart condition), according to his mother he handles his own med management. His heart problems are serious enough to warrant a transplant.

And the doctors at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania think he should die. Welcome to the wonderful world of 21st century medicine!

No one denies that there is a shortage of organs for transplant. Rationing is a sad reality, and each year several hundred people die while waiting for organs. Please note, however, that those people died while waiting for a viable organ. Paul Corby has been told he’s not even fit to be on the waiting list. Because he’s autistic … read more here

 


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