The Institute of Medicine has estimated that 98,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors, most of which they note from infections. The Health and Human Services Department stated in 2009 that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections tripled from 2000-2009, and increased tenfold since 1995.
There are several contributing factors that make eliminating potential risk of infections challenging. For instance, it’s been reported that hospital employees wash their hands as little as 30% of the time when interacting with patients, creating a large risk for the spread of germs and preventable infections 1. These germs can generate spores that can hide and grow even after the microbes that created it have been killed, the germs can reproduce quickly, and evolve rapidly and thus are able to thwart antibiotics.
Types of Infections
There are three primary infections which make up the vast majority of cases and which are getting the attention of experts. Central-line infections, associated with thin tubes inserted into patients to deliver drugs; urinary-tract infections caused by improper catheter use; and ventilator-associated infections that occur when people are on breathing machines for too long and germs get into their lungs. The CDC estimates that annually there are 248,000 incidents of central-line infections alone.
Why Hospitals Are Responsible for Deadly Patient Infections
There are certain steps that all hospitals should undertake to ensure that patients never develop serious infection. The most important precaution is simple, frequent hand washing. This includes not only the nurses and doctors, but support staff and patients’ visitors as well.
Another widespread problem within the industry is the lack of standardization for regular procedures such as inserting IVs and catheters. This means that for each procedure there is a uniform methodology being followed, which is accompanied by a standardized kit of required and necessary tools to be used. This ensures that for every central-line used to deliver antibiotics, chemotherapy, or other drugs, all kits contain a full body drape, chlorhexidine wipes, and other equipment for inserting the line in a sterile manner. The kits leave less room for question, interpretation, and mistakes. In one case study, a hospital’s pediatric unit was able to reduce infection rates by 75% since 2006.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney | Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a hospital infection, please use the form below or call us toll-free at 1 (800) 541-7358 to contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the national law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.
- The New York Times, " With Money at Risk, Hospitals Push Staff to Wash Hands," by Anemona Hartocollis, May 28, 2013