Hospital Acquired Infections

Hospital acquired MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph infection) infects about 880,000 patients a year and accounts for about 8% of all hospital infections.  Hospital infections caused by all kinds of bacteria infects millions of patients per year.  Nearly all of these infections are now preventable.  They are preventable when doctors and the hospital staff clean their hands, rigorously practice proper hygiene and implement other preventive measures.  For example, central line bloodstream infections should no longer occur.  These infections take place when a device is inserted into the patient such as a tube in a vein.  If the person inserting the tube has not properly washed his hands or the insertion site has not been properly cleaned, bacteria can enter the bloodstream. 

Certain hospitals have taken the necessary steps to sharply reduce infection rates.  However, a recent survey performed by Leapfrog (a patient-safety organization) found that 87% of hospitals fail to consistently practice infection prevention measures.  This is unacceptable and Medicare agrees.  Starting in October 2008, Medicare will stop reimbursing hospitals for treatment of certain device related bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections and surgical infections.  Why? because Medicare has determined, and correctly so, that these infections should not bee happening and when they do happen, it is the result of the negligence on the part of the hospital.