Hospital infections decreased slightly last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this may be good news, patient safety advocates say there is still a risk for deadly infections at many U.S. hospitals.
Why are hospital infections so dangerous? Hospital patients are more likely to get a hospital-acquired infection during their stay because they are around more viruses and bacteria and many patients' immune system is compromised when they are in the hospital, putting them at a higher risk for getting an infection.
There are a few specific types of infections that can be very dangerous for hospital patients. The CDC focuses on three types of infections: central-line bloodstream infections usually acquired in the ICU, infections acquired after surgery and urinary-tract infections caused by catheters. This last type of infection could occur to any hospital patient.
The CDC reports that roughly 100,000 patients die every year from these three types of infections. The CDC did report a little bit of good news. From 2008 to 2011, U.S. hospitals reported fewer of these types of infections and 10 percent of hospitals did not report any of these types of infections during the last few years.
While some hospitals have been successful in reducing infections, patient safety is still at risk until all hospitals are able to reduce these infections. These types of hospital infections can be very dangerous for patients and it is important for hospitals to take the appropriate safety measures to prevent infections spreading from patient to patient.
Patients who have acquired an infection during their hospital stay should understand their rights and keep track of any inconsistencies or negligence in their care during their time in the hospital. Patients may be able to pursue a medical negligence lawsuit if they have suffered from a hospital acquired infection.
Source: Consumer Reports, "Deadly infections still too common in U.S. hospitals," Feb. 13, 2013
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