Although medical professionals are already charged to "first do no harm" when it comes to patient care, the rising number of patients contracting infections during their stay in medical facilities suggests that the hospital workers should also be advised to "first wash your hands."
Hospital-acquired infections, also called healthcare-associated infections or nosocomial infections, are infections that are not present when a patient is admitted to a hospital but develop during their stay, or within 48 hours of being discharged. These infections can include bloodstream infections caused by catheters; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE); and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
The New York Times recently reported on the devastation caused by hospital-acquired infections, indicating that:
- These infections are contracted by two million patients around the country annually and cause 100,000 deaths
- Hospital-acquired infections each year cost $15,000 to $20,000 per patient to treat, which makes the total bill for the problem around $20 to $40 billion
Similarly, American Medical News reported that catheter-related infections affect 75,000 patients in hospitals each year, and about 25 percent of those patients die as a result.
Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections
There are a number of ways that medical professionals can curtail the spread of these deadly infections. First and foremost, improving hand hygiene goes a long way in preventing these problems - and many medical facilities are implementing technologies that alert patients to whether or not medical staff members have washed their hands before treating them. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control says that environmental cleansing and surveillance also helps reduce infection rates.
If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a hospital-acquired infection, legal remedies may be available. Speak to an experienced personal injury attorney today.