Hospital-Acquired Infections: More Common Than You May Realize

Basic safety measures taken by hospitals should stop a patient from contracting a hospital-acquired infection. However, the sad truth is that corners are sometimes cut and certain measures are over-looked, leading to unnecessary pain and suffering, physical damage, and a tremendous amount of unnecessary medical bills for patients.

We are not talking small numbers either. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day in the U.S., one in 25 patients will contract at least one healthcare-associated infection. As a recent article points out, around two million patients wind up with a hospital-acquired infection and approximately 90,000 die each year from these infections.

Report focuses on less hospitals reporting zero infections

A recently released report looked at the increase in hospitals reporting acquired infections. The reporting focused on five types of hospital acquired infections:

  • Urinary tract infections involving catheters
  • Methicillin-resistant staph infections, more commonly known as MRSA
  • Surgical site infections after a colon surgery
  • Bloodstream infections tied to central-lines
  • Clostridium difficile infections, referred to as C.diff or C. difficile
  • Peritonitis from unrecognized bowel perforations in surgery

All of these types of infections are very serious and treatment can be quite difficult, or they can be fatal.

Better safety practices necessary to keep patients healthy

There are some rather simple measures that hospitals can and should be taking to keep patients safe.

A big one is good hand washing. This should always happen not just after touching a bodily fluid or going outside on a break, but doctors, nurses and all hospital staff should be washing their hands every time after touching things like bed rails, remote controls and phones. Medical staff should also avoid touching their own faces – and when they do – quickly wash their hands.

Medical staff need to also give clear instructions to patients on how to care for their own surgical wounds once they are home. These conversations should be happening prior to discharge and should not just be a quick rundown either. Rather, it is important to make sure that the patient truly understands what needs to be happening. 

If a patient is taking an antibiotic in the hospital – and this needs to continue after leaving the hospital – this should also be clear. All too often, patients leave the hospital unsure of what needs to continue to happen and end up stopping necessary antibiotics, putting themselves unknowingly at risk. 

Some hospitals do not properly sterilize equipment for surgery or surgeons can make errors that cause bacteria from the intestines to damage the inside of the body.

Hospital-acquired infections are scary, because there is realistically very little – or in most cases – nothing a patient can do to prevent this from happening. This is why it’s vital to pay attention to any developing signs of symptoms of infection both in the hospital and after discharge.