Healthcare-associated infections, also known as hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), have a serious impact on patient recovery. Hospitalized patients who have been trying to overcome their ailments are catching these infections at rapid rates and becoming even more ill than when they arrived. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement that shed light on the enormity of this issue and its devastating impact on hospitalized patients. The report stated that about 1 in 25 U.S. hospital patients are diagnosed with at least one HAI. This means that these infections are responsible for an estimated 1.7 million reported cases of fatal complications and about 100,000 deaths per year.
Researchers claim that hospitalized individuals with weakened immune systems have proven to be susceptible to the infections comprised of bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Patients taking steroid medication that is known to suppress the body's immune system are acquiring the HAIs more than any other demographic of hospitalized patients. Nonetheless, the increasing number of reported cases per year indicates the infections are spreading quickly, and it doesn't take long for patients to become infected.
Not only are the infections easy to acquire, they are also very expensive to treat. According to the CDC's study, the amount of money it takes to treat hospital-acquired infections amounts to a whopping $10 billion a year.
But the most unsettling aspect of this phenomenon is the fact that as many as half the infections may be preventable. In the wake of this new information, Medicare has opted out of paying for patient care associated with serious hospital-acquired infections and researchers have proposed solutions to curb the rising infection rates. These efforts, as well as many others, have been made in hopes that hospitals will do more to prevent HAIs.
A new study conducted by Harvard researchers suggests that by focusing on surgical site infections - infections linked to catheters, ventilators, injections etc. - and by protecting against HAIs caused by Clostridium difficile, hospitals will be able to save significant amounts of money.
Researcher Trish Perl is a professor of medicine and pathology at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. She completed a study of surgical site infections on four medical facilities in the Johns Hopkins Health System. Perl concluded that the facilities would see a total increase in revenue of more than $2 million a year if they could successfully eradicate surgical site infections.
Hospitals might be focused more on the bottom line- the financial savings they might enjoy should infection rates decline, but improving procedures and limiting secondary infections could also lead to improved patient outcomes.
If you or someone you know has fallen ill due to the negligence of a medical facility, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Brod Law Firm or contact us online for a free consultation.