Few people would think that a likely time and place to pick up an infection would be in a hospital as they are receiving medical treatment. But alarming statistics now being compiled may turn heads. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 1 in 20 hospitalized patients will pick up an infection in the course of medical treatment. Other sources report that the five most common infections picked up by patients after hospital admittance cost our healthcare system almost $10 billion a year. In fact, hospital-acquired infections have become such a large issue that Medicare now refuses to pay for costs associated with them.
These infections are associated with several risk factors, which include:
· The use of indwelling medical devices, such as bloodstream, endotracheal, and/or urinary catheters · Surgical procedures · Hypodermic injections · Contamination of the healthcare environment · Improper use of antibiotics
In a recent Harvard study, researchers were able to attribute dollar figures to infections caused by common treatment techniques. For instance, the study found that surgical site infections, which occur in roughly 1 out of every 50 operations, cost an average of $21,000 per case to treat. Dollar figures were also found for central-line associated bloodstream infections (costing an average of $45,000 per case), pneumonia infections caused by ventilator machines (costing an average of $40,000 per case), and urinary tract infections stemming from the use of catheters (costing an average of $900 per case), in addition to a few other types of infections.
These infections, however, are not just a question of dollars and cents – they can be severely debilitating and even deadly. A study published in the Public Health Reports found as many as 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections in 2002, which were linked to 99,000 deaths. As reported by the same article, the CDC has collected data showing an average of 14,000 deaths per year related to C. difficile, a common hospital-acquired infection, between 2000 and 2007.
On the bright side, the problem is not being ignored. The Department of Health and Human Services has named the reduction of hospital acquired infections as one of their highest priorities, and the Federal Steering Committee for the Prevention of Health Care-Associated Infections was established in 2008. Obviously, though, this has not spelled the end of hospital-acquired infections, given the statistics cited above.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by an infection acquired in a hospital or other healthcare setting, you may have a claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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