A highly sophisticated bacteria strain known as MRSA has long been one of the leading causes of infections in hospitals. MRSA is a form of staph infection, but it is much more dangerous to patients than the typical staph infection because MRSA cannot be treated with first-line antibiotics. In 2005, there were over 368,000 hospitalizations because of the infection, and 68% of all staph infections are now of the MRSA variety.
Science journalist Maryn McKenna recently explained in an NPR interview that hospitals have long been a breeding grounds for the infection. Bacteria prefer living in weak immune systems. Sick or weak residents at hospitals -like the elderly, HIV infected, chemotherapy patients- all have weak immune systems. Those same patients also likely have many skin cuts for IVs. The combination of weak body defenses and many entry points make hospitals the ideal breeding ground for staph infections.
McKenna also notes that it is sometimes difficult for hospitals to eliminate the bacteria in its patients. She notes that many health care workers often fail to take simple steps, like washing hands, which have a serious effect on the bacteria. She points to a recent survey that indicated nearly 50% of “hand washing opportunities” are missed by healthcare workers..
An article in the Chicago Tribune recently reported on a frightening MRSA development as experts have discovered that the bacteria is found not only in hospitals but now exist in the community at large. Maryn McKenna noted in the Tribune article that community-based MRSA is often not on the radar of many medical professionals. If someone enters a hospital with the infection doctors may fail to diagnose the bacteria, missing precious treatment time. McKenna recommends that patients should clearly ask their healthcare workers about washing their hands.
The clear connection between hospital crowding, medical hygiene, and MRSA should be of concern to anyone seeking medical care. Our medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti encourage anyone receiving hospital care to pay close attention to the hygiene of medical professionals. We also support learning more about the community-strain MRSA so that you are equipped with knowledge about the warning signs of the bacteria.