Hospital-acquired infections, also known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are plaguing medical facilities and hospitalized patients nationwide, causing the American healthcare system’s quality of care to rapidly diminish. Data reveals that hospitalized patients who require supplementary care and treatments are acquiring these illnesses at astounding rates, ultimately leaving them more ill than they were upon admission.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study revealing the magnitude of this phenomenon and its detrimental effect on the health of patients. It concluded that approximately 1 in 25 U.S. hospital patients have been diagnosed with at least one HAI. In turn, infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and surgical site infections (SSIs) have caused complications in nearly 1.7 million reported cases of illness, and have claimed the lives of about 100,000 people each year.
Researchers claim that the demographic most likely to fall victim to HAIs are patients with weak immune systems. Those who are on steroid medication, which is known to suppress the body’s immune system, have a higher likelihood to acquire the infections than other patients. Clinicians say these infections, jam-packed with life-threatening fungi, viruses and bacteria, are spreading rapidly and are incredibly easier to acquire. And unfortunately, they’ve also been deemed very expensive to treat. According to the CDC’s report, it will take an estimated amount of $10 billion a year to treat most HAIs.
But the most disconcerting aspect of this phenomenon is that the spread of at least half of these infections are preventable. Upon this discovery, government programs and advocacy groups have made efforts to provoke hospitals to become more proactive about curving infection rates. Even Medicare has chosen to opt out of paying for treatment for HAIs to provide hospitals with incentive to take initiative.
Researchers are also working vigorously to propose solutions. A study conducted by Harvard researchers concluded that by first focusing on SSIs – infections burrowed in catheters, injectors, ventilators etc. – hospitals will be able to save a substantial amount of money on treatments.
Lead researcher and professor of medicine and pathology, Trish Perl, recently completed a study of SSIs on four medical facilities in Baltimore. She concluded that hospitals would see a total increase of revenue of more than $2 million per year if surgical site infections are completely eradicated.
But one issue hospitals are disregarding is the infections that come are acquired due to poorly executed procedures and failing to prevent secondary infections. A focus on the quality of services rendered by medical professionals could also help improve the outcomes of hospitalized patients, instead of solely emphasizing the savings hospitals could possibly receive if infection rates were minimized.
If you or someone you know has fallen ill in a medical facility or hospital, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are devoted to winning you the compensation you deserve. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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