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Nearly 100,000 Die Every Year from Hospital Acquired Infections

Through the years our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have come to appreciate the true scope of the infection problem in hospitals across the country. Hospital acquired infections affect a staggering number of patients each and every year. T he consequences of these preventable medical mistakes can be deadly. All those who care about improving the nation’s healthcare system and ultimately saving lives should spend considerable time and effort addressing this issue.

A report this in the USA Today recently address the continuing problem of these infections throughout the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nearly one out of every twenty hospitalized patients will acquire one of these infections while they are in the medical facility receiving assistance for completely different health issues. That represents a surprisingly large percentage of medical patients, and the potential consequences these victims face is not minor. The CDC estimates that nearly 100,000 patients die each and every year because of these problems that they develop at hospitals. The total costs of treating these infections likely averages around $45 billion a year. Clearly many lives and costs can be saved by decreasing the prevalence of these infections.

One of the main reasons why so many patients become infected while at these facilities is because their immune system is in a weakened state. Bacteria that might be virtually harmless to a healthy person could have disastrous consequences on one whose natural defenses are not strong, those who have incision, or those with catheters that breach the skin.

What makes these infections and the deaths that they cause particularly tragic is that they can almost always be prevented. Something as simple and ensuring proper hygiene at all times can virtually eliminate the problem. Yet most medical facilities fail in this regard. A recent study found that more than 60% of uniforms worn by doctors and nurses tested positive for potentially dangerous bacteria. Another study found that the gloved hands of healthcare workers were just as likely to become contaminated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) after touching the patient’s call button as after making contact with their abdomen. The take-away lesson being that all areas of the medical facility seemed to present bacteria-elimination challenges.

The severe infection problem has not received nearly as much attention as it deserves. A large part of that problem is the fact that hospitals have long fought effort to have infection rates made public. One patient safety advocate explained that “there has been little sense of urgency by the medical profession about this problem.” As it currently stands, a little more than half of state require such rates be compiled and made available to community members.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have worked with clients who have suffered the consequences of these hospital acquired infections first hand. Far too many families lose loved ones and have their lives turned upside down because of these problems. All local medical facilities must make eliminating these infections a priority. Please contact our office if you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by this or any other form of medical error.

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