A new study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that about 1 in every 25 patients seeking treatment at hospitals in 2011 acquired an infection there. Overall, in 2011 over 700,000 patients acquired infections, and 75,000 of them died from those infections. However, the study did not investigate how often the infections actually caused or contributed to the patient’s death.
The most common types of infections contracted in hospitals are pneumonia and infections at the site of surgery. Other common types are gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections, and infections of the bloodstream.
Although these statistics may appear to be grim, it is actually an improvement over prior years. In 2002, approximately 1.7 million people contracted infections in hospitals, and over 150,000 of them died. In almost 100,000 of those deaths, the patient’s infection actually caused or contributed to the death.
According to the CDC, if hospitals follow certain practices, the risk of infection can drop dramatically. For example, between 2008 and 2012, bloodstream infections from central lines dropped 44 percent as a result of requiring hospitals to follow a simple checklist of best practices. However, infection rates vary dramatically between states, as well as between neighboring hospitals.
If you need to have a procedure done in a hospital, experts recommend you research your local hospital’s infection rates ahead of time if at all possible. If the infection rate is high, it’s a good indicator that the hospital is not focusing on safety. Patients can also ask doctors and nurses to wash their hands upon entering the room.
If you have acquired an infection at a hospital, and that infection caused serious health problems, contact our Houston medical malpractice attorneys. You may have the right to legal compensation from the hospital. Call today to schedule your free consultation.