The Future of Hospital-Acquired Infections

If you want to know the future of hospital-acquired infections, just follow the money.

Hospital-acquired infections are potentially one of the most serious medical errors made in hospitals.  Market Research Future, a company that studies products, services, technologies and other factors to provide economic forecasts, recently forecasted that the hospital-acquired infection market (products and services that fight HAIs) will jump worldwide.

From now through 2022, they predict the market will grow more than 7 percent, up to $36.16 billion.

Causes of Infections Suffered in Hospitals

Reasons for this growth in hospital-acquired infections, according to the report, include:

·         Poor hospital infrastructure and regulation

·         Poor hospital training and infection control practices

·         Infected materials in hospitals

This is a report on hospital conditions across the globe, but the matter of hospital-acquired infections in U.S. hospitals remains very serious.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 25 hospital patients in the United States develops a hospital-acquired infection.

Most hospital-acquired infections arise from cleaning issues – both with medical equipment and poor personal hygiene of medical providers.  But known, simple measures to address patient contaminations from germs are not always followed.

Steps to Prevent Hospital Treatment Infections

A study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine (“Identification and Characterization of Failures in Infectious Agent Transmission Precaution Practices in Hospitals”) sought to determine what role healthcare providers played in hospital-acquired infections.  Specifically, researchers focused on the use – or the lack of use – of personal protective equipment designed to limit the spread of harmful germs.

In two hospitals, researchers uncovered multiple mistakes made by care givers in surgical units and intensive care units relating to bacterial infections caused by contact, such as those involving Clostridium difficile, and those transmiitted through the air.

Over the nine-month study period, researchers observed 283 medical errors in care.  These included mistakes in established protocols with personal protective equipment.  Mistakes were often made during the removal of the equipment. Some were elementary, such as medical professionals touching their faces with contaminated gloves or entering patient rooms without the required protection.

When doctors and nurses get contaminated, they run the risk of contaminating other patients.  And under the right circumstances, this avoidable contamination can turn into an infection that threatens a patient’s life.

The sources for hospital-acquired infections are growing more varied, another reason for the market’s lofty financial prospects.

An Australian study published in August 2018 in Science Translational Medicine (“Increasing Tolerance of Hospital Enterococcus Faecium to Handwash Alcohols”) finds that one type of bacteria  (Enterococcus faecium)  is developing resistance to hand sanitizers commonly used in hospitals.  This particular germ is often responsible for blood and urinary tract infections. The authors warn that a global solution is needed to this emerging crisis.

However, most hospital-acquired infections remain highly preventable with common-sense measures.  Doctors, nurses and other care givers who fail to follow these steps – fail to provide an acceptable standard of care – can needlessly put their patients at grave risk.

If you had a family member die during medical treatment, some avoidable mistakes may have been made.  Contact a lawyer who represents victims of medical malpractice to discuss your case.

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 Articles September 4, 2018