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Greater Efforts Needed to Combat Hospital Infections

People go to hospitals in order to get well. However, in some cases the hospitals themselves may actually be making them sick. Despite a great deal of progress in raising awareness of hospital infection concerns and promoting healthy and sterile practices, hospital-contracted infections still remain a significant problem in the United States.

In a March 2014 press release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that at least one of every 25 hospital patients in the U.S. contracts an infection during his or her hospital stay and that the number of hospital-borne infections had reached well over 700,000 and caused more than 73,000 deaths per year by 2011. Others can significantly lengthen hospital stays, create complications and even lead to long-term health problems.

Six particularly common infections account for more than half of all cases:

  • Clostridium difficile, an infection of the colon
  • Staphylococcus aureus, often called staph infection, includes the much-publicized MRSA infection
  • Klebsiella, a cause of pneumonia, blood infections and other types of infections
  • E. coli, a cause of severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a life-threatening form of kidney failure in young children and older adults
  • Enterococcus, a cause of UTIs and meningitis that is resistant to some common antibiotics
  • Pseudomonas, a bacteria that attacks patients with weakened immune systems

While some hospital infections can be attributed to the vulnerabilities inherent in the weakened immune systems of patients, others could be avoided. Effective sterilization and hygiene policies, proper quarantine and isolation procedures and close oversight of vulnerable patients could all contribute to reducing the prevalence and impact of hospital-borne infections. If there is reason to believe that you or a loved one has suffered such an infection due to institutional negligence at a healthcare facility, an experienced Atlanta attorney should review your case as soon as possible.