cdc panel warns about spread of infections outside of hospitals

Those who make an effort to remain current on trends and developments in the area of health care are more than likely familiar with the serious problem posed by hospital-acquired infections, which statistics show affect one out of every 20 patients.

While this may seem like a relatively high figure, government officials recently indicated that real progress has been made in efforts to combat some of the more virulent infections.

Last week, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to discuss the progress in U.S. hospitals concerning the spread of preventable infections. In a preview of findings scheduled to be released next year, CDC officials revealed the following:

  • Overall, the number of hospital-acquired infections has dropped by 20 percent over the last four years. 
  • During this same timeframe, central line bloodstream infections dropped by 44 percent and surgical site infections dropped by 20 percent.

CDC officials also informed the Senate panel that other data revealed a similar drop concerning Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially deadly infection that is “caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”

Specifically, the officials reported that 2011 saw 30,000 fewer MRSA cases and 9,000 fewer MRSA-related fatalities.

It should be noted, however, that not all of the news from the CDC officials was this encouraging. They also expressed concern over the possible spread of these hospital-acquired infections to both clinics and doctors’ offices, where patients are now undergoing more minor surgical procedures.

While the panel was unable to offer statistics to support the notion that infections are increasing at ambulatory centers and doctor’s offices, they nevertheless urged prompt action before it becomes a problem. To that end, they suggested implementation of some of the same strategies that have proven so effective in hospitals, including education and training, as well as medical checklists.

Here’s hoping that federal officials decide to launch some sort of initiative sooner rather than later …

If you or a loved one contracted an infection while in the hospital or at another medical facility, it is important to know that you do have rights. An experienced legal professional may be able to help secure the justice you deserve.

Source: Scientific American, “Hospital-based infections could be moving to doctors’ offices,” Dina Fine Maron, September 24, 2013

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