patients and advocacy groups battle hospital negligence

Over the past few months, study upon study has shown that hospital patients are at serious risk of developing infections or illnesses caused by medical staff negligence. Unfortunately, those studies have not produced tangible results.

Patients and advocacy groups say that more needs to be done to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections in Pennsylvania and around the country. Unfortunately, they are meeting stiff resistance from hospitals.

USA Today recently reported the story of one woman who experienced a harrowing ordeal shortly after giving birth to her second child. The baby was delivered via c-section. Thankfully, the child was fine. But the mother was not so lucky.

As she was being discharged with her son, the mother reported that the c-section incision was “painful and oozing.” Shortly thereafter, the hospital had to admit her again because she had a fever of 104 degrees. She then spent 13 more days in the hospital being treated for necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that she acquired in the hospital.

Instead of being able to enjoy her son’s first few weeks of life, this mother was forced to fight for her life in the hospital. Unfortunately, her story is not unique.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly five percent of hospital patients will acquire an infection. Although this woman’s case is more severe than most, the CDC says that these infections kill nearly 100,000 people every year. This is far too many lives being lost because of preventable hospital-acquired infections.

Many advocacy groups have been pushing for individual hospitals’ infection rates. Hospitals, however, are not inclined to comply. They often argue that spending time gathering such data would take time away from patient care.

While simple things like proper hand-washing and wearing clean scrubs can make a difference, it is not enough. Hospitals need to start tracking their own infection rates and reporting that information so that patients can make smart decisions about where to seek medical care.

Source: USA Today, “War on hospital infections drags on,” Rita Rubin, Sept. 19, 2011

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