Each day, one out of every 25 hospital patients in the United States suffers a catastrophic infection. As a result, 90,000 patients die each year from a hospital-acquired infection.

These are the findings from the Leapfrog Group, which in June published a report on hospital-acquired infections (Healthcare-Associated Infections).  The Leapfrog Group is a not-for-profit organization focused on improving the safety of healthcare in this country. One of the more notable Leapfrog efforts is to each year issue a safety grade for hospitals across the United States. The frequency of potentially deadly hospital-acquired infections is a part of that grade.

This new report points out that, since 2015, the percentage of hospitals reporting no patient infections has declined each year. It also states that most serious hospital-acquired infections are preventable. As much as 70 percent of certain hospital-acquired infections could be prevented by modest measures taken by healthcare staff.

Types of Deadly Hospital-Acquired Infections

The types of hospital-acquired infections are numerous. The Leapfrog Group’s report centered on five of the most common and potentially catastrophic:

·         Blood stream infections associated with the use of central line (venous catheter) in ICUs

·         Urinary tract infections contracted in ICUs associated with catheter use

·         Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections (staph bacteria)

·         Antibiotic resistant Clostridium difficile infections (C. diff bacteria)

·         Surgical site infections following major colon surgery

The Leapfrog Group is not the only organization taking notice of this dangerous trend for hospital patients. Medicare is measuring preventable medical errors made at hospitals and reducing payments to hospitals that have the highest rate of patient injuries. Included in its penalty calculations is the rate of hospital-acquired infections.

St. Louis Hospitals Cited for Patient Harm

In December 2017, Medicare announced it would cut 2018 payments to 751 hospitals that had the highest rates of patient harm. This group included five St. Louis area hospitals. They will see reduced Medicare reimbursement because of their high number of preventable medical errors.

While the consequences of hospital-acquired infections are often serious, the steps to prevent them are relatively simple, as patient infections most often occur from lax personal hygiene and negligent care of medical devices.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals should wash their hands every time before entering a patient room.  Patient rooms must be carefully and dutifully scrubbed down.  And special care must be taken to ensure dirty catheters are never used on patients.

When hospitals don’t follow the proper steps to prevent infections, and patients suffer as a result, they should be held accountable.

If you had a family member die due to an infection received from hospital treatment, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to investigate.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog July 10, 2018