Hospital Infection Rates a Matter of Concern

Infections contracted in hospitals can be a serious threat to patients’ health. The CDC estimates that roughly two million patients per year develop infections in hospitals, out of which approximately 90,000 per year die. The Consumers’ Union discusses how many states have adopted laws requiring hospitals to disclose rates of patient infection, and how more states are considering such measures.

Disclosing infection rates will hopefully lead to better patient safety and stronger compliance with prevention protocols. It is a good idea for people to remain aware of the infection rates at local hospitals.

Thankfully, some hospitals are beginning to fight the problem more aggressively. Although many people who work in large U.S. hospitals view infections as either a non-issue or as inevitable, hospitals are beginning to take more severe measures to curb them.

As described in the July 27th, 2007 issue of the New York TImes, three state legislatures have passed bills requiring hospitals to routinely test high-risk patients. The article also notes that that CDC projections estimate that one out of 22 patients would become infected while hospitalized, and that some European countries have had success in aggressively fighting infections.

This is a late response to a problem that has existed for a long time, as an earlier Times article documented on the Veterans Affairs website indicates.

Infection is often caused by carelessness about hygiene, and can lead to tragedy-for instance, the article refers to a woman who lost her mother because of an infection that was probably contracted because a caregiver had unwashed hands. Patients ought to be aware of this issue. If possible, it is a good idea to seek out hospitals where some anti-infection measures are taken.

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