An August 10, 2015, Consumer Reports article carried the headline above. This article began by reporting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each year, 648,000 people who are admitted to hospitals develop infections from their stay. Additionally, approximately 78,000 die each year from these infections.
Hospital infections have become one of the most deadly health issues in the U.S. healthcare system. According to the CDC as reported in a New York Post article on August 26, 2015, it is estimated that hospital infections kill more people each year that breast cancer and AIDS combined.
The Consumer Report article states that, “The CDC finds improved infection control and antibiotic prescribing could save 37,000 lives in five years.” The article notes that while some hospitals are doing a fairly good job, others, in the 3000 they surveyed, are not.
One of the issues is a lack of uniform way to deal with infection prevention. The CDC suggests that “…hospitals need to implement measures proven to keep patients safe.” This suggests that certain hospitals are not utilizing the best practices for infection control. This also suggests that there is limited or no oversight for such control.
The CDC also suggests that “…hospitals need to coordinate with each other and with state and local health departments.” Again this suggests that such coordination does not currently exist.
“The current threat of antibiotic resistance in health care settings suggests that historical independent institution-based efforts to prevent transmission have been inadequate,” the CDC study said. “Coordinated prevention approaches led by public health agencies, when coupled with intensified facility-based prevention programs, have the potential to more completely address the emergence and dissemination of these organisms.”
If the CDC meets their stated goal of reducing deaths by 37,000, the death rate, according to their numbers, would still be 41,000 deaths due to hospital infections per year. This number of hospital caused infections should not be an acceptable number by anyone’s standards.
Dr. George Curry, president of the International Chiropractors Association commented on this issue, “Everyone in healthcare must work diligently to prevent infections caused by healthcare facilities.” He continued, “But perhaps the best way to prevent hospital infections is to stay out of the hospital in the first place. Yes we all agree that there are circumstances that arise that make a trip to the hospital unavoidable, but perhaps as a society, if we focused more on health and the things that keep us healthy, there would be less reason to be in a hospital in the first place.”