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Medical Malpractice

Healthcare-Associated Infections Continue to Kill

June 30, 2014 | Michael Barasch

A new study discussed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals the sobering reality of healthcare-association infections (HAIs) in the United States.

HAIs are infections developed by persons receiving medical help in a healthcare setting. HAIs are typically caused through unsanitary surgical procedures, poor nursing practices, overuse of antibiotics and microbes that inhabit inserted medical devices like catheters.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers made startling and disturbing findings about the rate at which patients in the United States are killed by infection during a hospital stay. Combined with data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a snapshot of HAI’s in the United States includes:

  • On any day in the U.S. one in 25 hospitalized patients contracts an HAI.
  • In 2011, more than 700,000 people developed an HAI.
  • About 200 people die each day from an HAI in the U.S. In 2011, approximately 75,000 people died from HAIs.
  • The most common HAIs are pneumonia, infection at a surgical site, gastrointestinal infection, urinary tract infection and infections of the bloodstream.

While some cross-contamination in hospital settings is bound to occur, caregiver mistakes needlessly endanger patients during their stay. Simple steps you can take to help yourself or a loved one during a hospital stay include:

  • Ensuring that all caregivers wash their hands before touching you. Ask if their stethoscope is clean.
  • Asking how you can protect yourself from an HAI during a hospital stay.
  • If you receive a catheter or other indwelling device, asking how long it is needed.
  • If given antibiotics, asking if it is specifically targeted to your infection.

Medical care should help you heal — not feel worse. If you suffer injury from a medical mistake in New York, seek skilled legal advice.

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