Fighting Hospital Infections: When Less is More

The deadly MRSA infection, estimated to kill 19,000 Americans every year (more than the toll from AIDS), has been virtually wiped out in Norway, with three simple steps:

As described in a recent Associated Press article:

Norway’s model is surprisingly straightforward.

— Norwegian doctors prescribe fewer antibiotics than any other country, so people do not have a chance to develop resistance to them.

— Patients with MRSA are isolated and medical staff who test positive stay at home.

— Doctors track each case of MRSA by its individual strain, interviewing patients about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with, testing anyone who has been in contact with them.

Step No. 1, ratcheting back on antibiotic prescriptions and relying more on the old tried-and-true ones, won’t go over well in America, where the prescription drug industry pushes all of us into a newer-is-better and more-is-better approach.

But step No. 2 — test and isolate — has been proven to work by itself to virtually wipe out the spread of MRSA once it gets into a hospital, by isolating people who are carriers.

The problem is that people can carry the bug on their skin without harm; a deadly infection only happens when it gets into the body of an already vulnerable patient. The answer: do nasal swabs of all incoming patients when admitted to the hospital to see if they are carriers, and if so, isolate them in special units.

Does your hospital do this? If not, you should ask why not. The safest hospitals in the United States do nasal swabs of all incoming patients at the time of admission. It’s for their safety and everyone else’s.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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