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Comprehensive Review of Catheter-Related Bloodstream Infections

The March issue of General Surgery News includes a detailed analysis and clinical review of a problem that our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers know is a pressing concern-bloodstream infections caused by catheters in the hospital. These infections are almost always preventable and constitute type of health care associated infection (HAI) that impacts tens of thousands of patients every single year. Medical malpractice attorneys are patient safety advocates, and few projects are as important to patient safety as the lowering of these infection rates.

The HAI problem is an incredibly serious one for two reasons. First, the sheer scope of the problem is enormous. According to this latest clinical review, past studies estimate that there may be as many as 1.7 million HAIs every year. That amounts to about 4.5 infections per 100 hospital admissions. In other words, this is not an isolated problem but a systematic one. Second, the consequences of the infections are severe. The same experts suggest that nearly 100,000 medical patients die each and every year because of these infections which they acquire while in the hospital to be treated for some other ailment. If the old adage that a doctor’s first priority is to “do no harm,” then there is massive failure when that many patients die because of problems that develop (and could have been prevented) while they are already at the hospital.

The General Surgery News analysis into catheter related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs), explains that CRBSIs account for roughly 11% of all HAIs. About a decade ago the National Healthcare Safety Network-a group that is run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-created an action plan that specifically targets the problem of CRBSIs. In an effort to tackle the problem, in 2002 the National Quality Forum began a public accountability and consumer access project to spur hospital into changes that would lower these infection rates. Five years later, in 2007, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided that it would no longer reimburse providers for HAIs. This was an important step, because financial incentives are often at the heart of safety changes. The overall effect of this billing change is still not fully understood. However, CMS officials last year began mandating that hospitals report their CRBSI rates.

According to this review, managing CRBIs involves two steps. First, an antimicrobial treatment has to be administered quickly. Of course, this requires close monitoring of the situation so that infections are caught early on. Second, the catheter needs to be removed or salvaged properly. Failure to take these two steps may result in severe problems for the patient, including death.

It is medical malpractice for patients to suffer injury at a hospital that should have been prevented had reasonable care been provided. In some instances that may involve a patient suffering injury after developing an HAI. If you suspect that you or a loved one was injured in this way, please reach out to a Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm to see how we can help.

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