When a patient checks into a hospital, the hope is that the hospital will provide reasonable medical care and the patient will get better. Unfortunately, in some cases, this doesn’t occur.
In fact, in some tragic cases, checking into a hospital or healthcare facility can actually make patients sicker since there is a high rate of infections in healthcare institutions. These infections come at a cost to patients, and also for hospitals and for Medicare since patients with infections need more costly treatment and longer hospital stays.
In light of the high rate of healthcare infections, seven major hospitals underwent a 2 ½ year pilot program to try out some simple methods of reducing the infection rate. The program revealed that small changes can have a big impact on infection risk.
Our Queens medical malpractice attorneys want to raise awareness of this pilot program, both to highlight the dangers of infections in a healthcare setting and to demonstrate that simple fixes can go a long way towards reducing the risk.
The Dangers of Infections in a Healthcare Setting
The dangers of infection in a healthcare setting should not be understated. In fact, hospital infections are a leading killer of patients. A recent CBS News article drew attention to this problem. Statistics reported in the article indicated that:
- There are two-million infections in the U.S. each year that are caused by or related to healthcare services.
- Each year, approximately 90,000 people die of hospital or healthcare related infections.
- 15 percent of healthcare related infections occur due to the use of intravenous catheters. IV catheters are used to deliver fluid, medication and nutrition to patients but there is a great risk of contamination leading to infection.
- 30 percent of all hospital-related deaths each year are attributed to blood infections that result from the use of IV catheters.
These numbers are tragic. Patients who expect to get medical care and who turn to a hospital to help them are being killed by infections they acquire in these hospital settings.
Taking Steps to Fight Infection
Although the problem of health-care related infections is a major one, the solution might involve simple and relatively minor changes. According to CBS News, seven large hospitals recently participated in a 2 ½ year project where they instituted some simple changes designed to fight infection. The hospitals did three things differently with patients who were undergoing colorectal surgeries, which are surgeries with a high risk of infection due to the large number of bacteria that live within the intestinal track. The three changes made by the hospital included:
- Having patients take a shower prior to surgery and wash themselves with special germ-fighting soap.
- Requiring hospital personnel to change gloves, instruments and gowns during surgical procedures to avoid spreading germs.
- Covering surgical openings with wound protecting devices to prevent intestinal bacteria from causing contamination.
With these three simple steps, the number of patients who developed infections was reduced by one-third. The average infection rate dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent over 10 months, and 135 infections were avoided over the 2 ½ year period, resulting in $4 million in savings. Further, even when patients did develop infections, the average length of their stay in the hospital was reduced from 15 to 13 days.
The outcome of this project shows that there is hope for preventing infections and that hospitals don’t have to do a lot in order to achieve big safety benefits for their patients.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations to malpractice victims. Call 1-877-313-7673 to speak with someone about your case and to discuss your rights today!
NYC Awarded Nearly $135M In 2012 Medical Malpractice Cases, New York City Personal Injury Lawyers Blog September 25, 2012