One of the main fights related to minimizing preventable deaths at hospitals relates to infections. Literally hundreds of thousands of medical patients develop infections after they enter the hospital, often with life-ending consequences. It is for this reason that proper cleanliness standards and other efforts are needed to minimize the harm from these hospital-acquired infections.
Bizarre Treatment to Save Lives Post-Infection
Much focus is understandably on preventing the infections in the first place. But there are also professionals who are working to save lives after the infection, by developing new treatments to minimize the harm caused. Recently the Boston Globe reported on one such treatment that seem quite strange for those unfamiliar with these issues.
The treatment has been around for fifty years, but it is only rarely used to treat those with gastrointestinal infections. Essentially, it involves a fecal transplant. By taking the feces of another person and transplanting it into the body of the sufferer, proper bacteria balances might be achieved.
Interestingly, in the past the procedure was viewed somewhat dismissively–as a relic of times gone by. However that mindset is slowly changing. In a unique reversal, many doctors are now trying fecal transplants, and they have actually seen positive results. In fact, the results of a new sophisticated trial were just released which offer the strongest proof yet that this treatment actually works.
The researchers in the test found that patients suffering from one of the most common (and potentially harmful) infections from C. difficile (C. diff) saw marked improvement when they received a fecal transplant. In the test, the donor fecal matter was infused with the patient’s intestine. Researchers found that those receiving the transplant fared obviously better than those given standard antibiotic treatments. The study was actually halted early because the results were so striking. The New England Journal of Medicine story explained how thirteen out of sixteen patients improved after the first transplant. Two others improved after a second transplant. In traditional antibiotic patients, only one-third saw improvement.
The new treatment option could not come at a better time, as the development of C. diff–particularly antibiotic resistant strains–are rising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,000 patients died from C. diff in 1999. Less than ten years later, in 2007, that number had more than quadrupled to 14,000 deaths. Because the bacteria is becoming more resistant, the options for fighting back are limited.
Many patients develop the deadly infection while they are in the hospital for some other reason. The bacteria causes such harm because, in many cases the patient’s body is already weak from their original ailment. But hopefully increasing use and success of the fecal transplant option might provide a powerful new tool to address the problem. Researchers are now evaluating different methods of delivery for the transplant and ideal ways to screen donors.
Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers will be following these developments closely with the hope that deaths from hospital acquired infections decrease.
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