Government calls for urgency in dealing with growing problem of hospital infections

A government agency called for “urgent attention” regarding the growing problem of hospital infections, saying an estimated 100,000 people a year are dying often needless deaths in the nation’s hospitals.

Hospital infections are often preventable and may be the result of unsanitary conditions, improper surgical procedures or other negligence on the part of a doctor or hospital. A medical malpractice attorney should be consulted anytime a patient is seriously injured or killed as a result of a hospital infection.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that Postoperative sepsis, or bloodstream infections, increased by 8 percent, while post-op catheter-related urinary tract infections increased by 3.6 percent.

The New York Times reported that a number of programs have proven successful in preventing such infections simply by practicing proper hygiene, proper disinfection of patients, sterile handling of equipment and the correct use of antibiotics.

The agency found instances of hospital pneumonia decreased by 12 percent. However, both sepsis and hospital pneumonia are leading causes of lengthy hospital stays, high medical bills and patient death.

Twenty percent of hospital patients who contract sepsis die as a result of their injuries. Those who survive spend an average of 11 extra days in the hospital at a per-patient cost of more than $32,000. For those who contract hospital pneumonia, 1 in 10 will die and survivors will spend two additional weeks in the hospital at an average cost of more than $46,000.

Under new federal laws, hospitals with high rates of infection can face government penalties. However those laws are not scheduled to take effect until 2015.