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Hospital-acquired infections preventable but common

hospital patient-intravenous.jpgHospital-acquired infections are very preventable, yet cause many serious injuries and deaths in hospitals and nursing homes every year.

The statistics are staggering. According to the Healthcare IT News, around 722,000 hospitalized patients suffered a serious infection in 2011 while being treated in a hospital. At least 75,000 of these patients died as a direct result of hospital errors that result in infections.

In an effort to reduce these numbers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has begun linking the amount of Medicare reimbursement to a hospital's rate of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). It has also developed a map showing those hospital facilities that have higher rates of HAIs than the national average.

The map shows three hospitals in the Columbus area with higher than average infection rates. Grant Medical Center, Riverside Methodist Hospital and Ohio State University Hospitals each failed in the area of catheter-acquired urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). This type iof infection is the most common hospital-acquired infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 16 and 25 percent of hospitalized patients receive catheters during their hospital stays. Although not all catheterized patients develop urinary tract infections, 75 percent of patients who develop UTIs have been catheterized. There are around 93,000 hospital-acquired urinary tract infections each year in the U.S. This means that almost 70,000 of these infections are related to catheter use.

Although the CDC has issued official guidelines, preventing urinary tract infections associated with catheters requires only common sense, not high-tech interventions. Standard sanitary procedures must be followed. Catheters should be used only when necessary and should be removed as soon as they are no longer needed. Using catheters for the convenience of hospital staff is not appropriate, and when this occurs, a high rate of CAUTIs should not be surprising.

Back in 2013, Becker's Hospital Review ranked Ohio 17th in the U.S. in its improvement in reducing CAUTIs in its hospitals. This means that 16 states were more successful than Ohio, while 33 states made less improvement.

Urinary tract infections are not the only type of HAI. Gastrointestinal infections and pneumonia as well as bloodstream infections and surgical site infections are also tracked by the CDC. Unfortunately, CAUTIs increased through 2013. However, preliminary data for 2014 suggests that this trend may be reversing itself.

If you suffered the consequences of a hospital-acquired infection or if a loved one died because of this type of negative outcome, it is important to find out about your legal rights and options. You may be eligible to seek compensation through a claim or lawsuit. An experienced Ohio medical malpractice lawyer can advise you.


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