Hospital-Related Infections: Sixth Leading Cause of Death in USA
Thousands of people die every year due to diseases caused by infections. According to one of the latest reports issued by the US government, of these hospital-related infections are the sixth leading causes of death in the United States. About two million people in the US alone are inflicted with hospital acquired infections, out of which 100,000 meet certain death.
This has now become a major cause of serious concern, since this can be prevented to a large extent by the hospitals themselves. The hospitals have been breathing easy because until now they were not required to disclose the number of deaths by hospital infections to the public. However, now the government has made it mandatory for all hospitals to reveal the exact figures, if they want government funding for medical care to continue as before.
Many patients who come for some minor surgeries unfortunately become victims of hospital infections due to improper hygiene maintenance. The staff are sometimes negligent about the sterilization of OT equipments, fumigation and sterilization procedures. This gives rise to very potent bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These MRSA infections prove to be deadly and of acquired, result in sure death. Approximately, 250.000 infections are acquired from catheters every year, of which 31,000 lead to inevitable death.
United States – Federal Reporting System for Hospitals
To tackle this serious menace, the federal government has introduced a new reporting system that will be available to the general public for evaluation. In addition, from 2013, those hospitals that have improper records and fail to follow the norms will face a 2% loss of Medicare funding. Surgery records have to be compulsorily updated and reported till the case is closed. An estimated two million contract hospitals acquired infections and spend about $6.5 billion extra to treat such affected patients.
The hospitals will now have stringent norms to follow and it has been made compulsory that they report all the cases of nosocomial infections or hospital related infections and the number of deaths thereafter. This will give an idea as to which areas and hospitals are more prone tro these types of infections and steps can be taken to curb these. Using faulty catheters, improper sterilization of tracheostomy tubes, and other methods of intervention are the major causes of hospital related infections.
It has been found that most of the bacteria in the ICU wards and Operation theaters are resistant to the best of antibiotics thereby making it all the more difficult to combat these.
Steps to curb hospital related infections:
- Keep the surgery ward absolutely sterile
- Fumigate the operation theater after every surgery
- Autoclave or sterilize all the equipment after every surgery
- Use disposal equipment whenever possible
- Recovery ward should be kept clean and hygienic
- Maintain the hygiene of diabetics and low immunity patients
- Keep the necessary emergency drugs at hand to combat the infection effectively and promptly
- Train the hospital staff in hygiene maintenance during and after surgeries
- Switching from stainless steel to copper fittings could reduce spread of infection by as much as 40% according to recent reports
Thus ,if proper steps are not taken soon by the US government hospital related infections may become the frontrunners in causing deaths that could have otherwise been prevented.
[box type="note"]In fact, a little bit of co-operation by the medical fraternity and follow-up by the US government can bring about a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths due to hospital acquired infections.[/box]