Tag: mrsa

CDC Publishes Steps For Hospitals To Prevent MRSA

The CDC has published safety measures for hospitals to follow to prevent MRSA and/or prevent the spreading of MRSA to other hospital patients.  The guidelines include the placing of MRSA patients in a single room or in a room with another MRSA patient, health care providers are to wear gloves, masks and gowns when treating MRSA patients and take such items off when leaving the patients room, and wash hands with soap and water.  The spread of MRSA is absolutely preventable if proper safety measures are followed.

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Hospitals Facing Infection Lawsuits

Claims based on hospital inquired infections are on the rise.  Recent jury verdicts suggest that more lawsuits will be filed.  On November 6, 2008, a jury awarded $13.5 million to a Massachusetts woman who died of an infection caused by flesh-eating bacetria she acquired during cancer treatment at the hospital.  On November 14, 2008, a Utah woman reached a confidential settlement in medical malpractice she filed against a hospital after the hospital failed to detect a flesh-eating bacteria resulting in the loss of limbs.  In July, a couple in Missouri was awarded $2.58 million after the husband contracted Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) when doctors at the hospital inserted a pacemaker.  As a result of the deadly MRSA, the man lost a kidney, a leg and a foot.  According to the CDC, 2 million patients acquire infections while at the hospital per year resulting in 90,000 deaths.  In the past, hospitals were successful in arguing that the vast majority of the infections were unpreventable.  This argument is no longer holding water.  The standard of care has been raised requiring hospitals to take appropriate measures to prevent infections.  Last year, the CDC published guidelines for preventing infections.  As of October 1, 2008, Medicare stopped reimbursing for certain type of hospital acquired infections.  Hopefully, by having the hospitals held accountable, the rate of deadly hospital infections will decline.

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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.

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