Hospital-Stay Infections, Still Bad? Try 650K a Year
Infection rate is down, but 200 Americans still die daily
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2014 5:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – About 4% of US hospital patients acquire an infection while hospitalized, which added up to 648,000 people in 2011—75,000 of whom died, the Washington Post reports. The most common infections, according to a CDC survey: pneumonia (22%), surgical site injections (22%), and gastrointestinal infections (17%). Hospitals have curbed the problem somewhat, but throw in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and hospital patients have something to worry about. "Today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay," said CDC Director Tom Frieden.

A second CDC report included some good news—that infections from "central lines" inserted in major blood vessels have dropped 44% since 2008, and 10 surgical procedures saw a 20% drop, Medical News Today reports. What's more, President Obama's proposed 2015 budget allots money to lower antibiotic resistance, and 25 drug-makers agreed today to new guidelines prohibiting the use of antibiotics to beef up livestock, Reuters reports. But until hospitals become safer, what can patients do? An advocate advises people to insist that care-givers—even senior doctors—remain "compulsive" about hand hygiene.

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Mar 28, 2014 6:51 PM CDT
With my hand to God, My neighbor/ drinking buddy went in for tests 17 days ago. He went home -got sick and has been in Intensive Care for 14 days as of today. He caught a "life threatening" infection in the hospital. They told his wife he could die from it. Best case scenario, he lives with a $100,000+ medical bill.
Mar 28, 2014 6:16 PM CDT
My father got a surgical site infection in a knee replacement. Total cost to Medicare for eight more surgeries, two years of antibiotic treatment etc--bout half a million bucks. Sorta held me back from my own replacements. I got both on the same day and made everyone wash their hands. EVERYONE. Most staffers said good for you. Biggest thing though is your own care. That washing with the special soap for three days before. New towels, new sheets--I even put my dogs in the kennel for four days before. Four weeks out and no infection. BUT, WHO CARES? IT HURTS LIKE A BITCH. I didn't think of that part of it. Don't run on the sidewalk.
Mar 28, 2014 4:03 PM CDT
Back in the 1980's I had a good friend who was a retired PHS nurse, and who also taught nursing to would-be RN's. She explained the prevalence of iatrogenic infections this way: With the advent of antibiotics, hospitals relaxed their protocols for sanitizing and sterilizing. When my friend was a practicing RN, the entire hospital, every room, every part of every room, was thoroughly scrubbed and disinfected -- every day. You won't find that level of cleanliness any more. It "costs too much", and antibiotics are relied upon to treat the resultant hospital-induced illnesses. Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.