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.


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