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Hospitals Pushed to Prevent Infections

hand with germsIn the past three decades, more and more patients enter hospitals only to get sicker. The seriously ill are acquiring serious infections through the tubes they are connected to or through bedsores. This happens some two million times a year. Studies have shown that patients with hospital-acquired infections:

  • spend many more days in the hospital
  • undergo more extensive procedures
  • are more likely to die

One out of five times hospital infections are fatal. And even if they don’t kill you, they drive up costs for everybody. Different studies have proposed different solutions:

  • One survey says the solution is simple: nurses and doctors need to wash their hands more. And hospitals – and maybe the patients or their families themselves – need to insist on it.
  • Another study found that frequent hand washing and the use of alcohol-based hand gels to kill germs is not enough.
  • A different survey found inadequate staffing and fiscal constraints to be the biggest obstacles hospitals face in preventing infection.
  • A fourth has proposed “bundling” – a series of specific preventive steps that vary based on treatment.

Whatever the reason, experts are urging action – not just to cut avoidable harm and costs in hospital care, but because these drug-resistant bugs are now moving beyond the hospital walls.

Pennsylvania was the first state to collect data on infections acquired by hospital patients. Now a US Representative from that state has introduced a bill that would force hospitals to disclose their infection rates to a federal agency that would publish the information on a website available to the public. Hopefully this public scrutiny will help push hospitals to clean up their act, literally. If not for the sake of public health, then at least to help their bottom line.

UPDATE:

An April 21 newspaper article details how two California hospitals have begun to wage a successful war against infection:

BAY AREA HOSPITAL COLLABORATION REDUCES HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS
by Chris Rauber
East Bay Business Times

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Dan February 28, 2009, 4:13 pm

    What A Low Life…..

    Sometimes, Death Is Good….. For A Vicious Unicellular Microorganism.
    There are a variety of different types of foreign bacterial infections one can get from many different sources, yet some are more common than others. If they are not beneficial for your physiology, they all should die in order to restore your health.
    Bacteria are a simple life form, yet are incredibly productive and efficient. As with other life forms, it exists to reproduce, and does so about every hour, and evolves and adapts to its environment as needed.
    To do this, it fully utilizes all available resources and energy to develop the protein that is essential for its survival, and bacteria have the ability to adapt as needed to assure this happens.
    It needs exactly 7 genes to produce the essential ribosomes for this to occur. Any more or less genes than 7, the bacteria is not maximizing its efficiency to survive and reproduce. Amazing.
    Strept infections are caused by what are called gram positive bacteria, and are the most common bacteria that infect others.
    Staph bacterial invasions are gram positive as well, yet it is the MRSA, Methicillin Resistant Staff Aureous bacteria of this type often are very difficult to treat normally when a patient suffers from their damage from being invaded by these bacteria.
    Another difficult situation is when a patient is infected by VRE, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, as well.
    These MRSA and VRE pathogenic or disease causing bacteria are the ones that are the most clinically concerning for the health care provider. In most cases, such bacteria invade a resident of a medical institution, and have proved to result in very dangerous infections.
    If so, they are called nosocomial infections, and such infections are not limited to resistant strains of bacteria. Greater than 5 percent of nosocomial infections are determined to be MRSA infections, others have determined. This results in about 100,000 serious hospital infections, as well as about 20,000 deaths from MRSA infections annually.
    Group A strep infections can cause diseases such as strep throat and pneumonia. Since there are several types of bacteria, a diagnostic test called a culture and sensitivity is usually performed to assure the correct antibiotic is selected for treatment, as the bacteria are identified with this method.
    Typically, fluid from the area suspected of being infected is obtained from the patient suspected to have an infection and smeared on what is called a petrie dish. And then these dishes are incubated for 2 to 3 days.
    Gram positive bacteria stain during this process a dark violet or blue. Gram negative bacteria would be pink in color, and are capable of harm as well to a human being.
    When the culture is complete, technology offers recommendations on the appropriate class or brand of antibiotic for this bacteria present in another person- presuming the bacteria will not be resistant to the antibiotic recommended, as this happens on occasion.
    Usually, classes of antibiotics that are used to treat gram positive strep infections that are not VRE or MRSA are cephalosporins, macrolides, or general penicillins. If the microbe that is causing the infection is resistant to the antibiotic from such classes that are administered to the infected patient, other options should be considered
    With two antibiotics in particular, which are methicillin and vancomycin, which is the case with VRE and MRSA bacteria, then there are other more aggressive antibiotics that will be chosen for this patient.
    Such brands and types of antibiotics for MRSA and VRE bacteria include Zyvox, which has both IV and oral dosage options. There are also other antibiotics, such as Cubicin. However these antibiotics for antibiotic resistant bacteria are given usually due to infections that have progressed to a more serious nature within a patient infected in such a way.
    Progressive medical conditions include sepsis, or blood infection, osteomyelitis, or bone infection, or Pneumonia, which is a serious lung infection. A hospital stay is normally required with such patients, as the last antibiotics mentioned for MRSA and VRE bacterial infections are given by IV administration initially for several days, if not several weeks.
    There are numerous classes and types of antibiotics available, yet bacterial resistance to most of these antibiotics constantly remains serious concern for the health care provider, and the infected patient, with MRSA at the top of the list of concerns for the health care providers.
    Medical institutions should possibly consider quarantine for those patients at their locations that have been determined to be infected with the MRSA bacteria
    Dan Abshear
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_spotlight_2006.html

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