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Study Reveals Way to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections

Birth injuries

While hospitals and other medical care facilities have made progress in decreasing the number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) that occur on their watch, there is still more work to be done. Every day, approximately one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Results of a research project known as the “HAI Prevalence Survey” were published in 2014. The survey revealed that in 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 HAIs in U.S. acute care hospitals and that about 75,000 patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit.

Most of these infections are preventable and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is working to bring attention to the issue to reduce the rate of unnecessary hospital infections in the United States.

Study suggests that reducing the use of general antibiotics will decrease healthcare-associated infections

Research published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, revealed that when doctors in U.K. hospitals decreased the use of Cipro, Levaquin, and other broad-spectrum antibiotics; the rate of deadly infections among their patients from the bacteria known as C. diff dropped by a shocking 80 percent.

What is the link between common HAIs and antibiotics?

Almost half a million Americans become infected with C. diff bacterial infections each year; they are a factor in the deaths of another 29,000, according to the CDC. It is estimated that about two-thirds of those who get sick from C. diff are exposed to it in the hospital or another healthcare facility where the infections spreads easily between sick people in close quarters being cared for by the same health care providers who use health care equipment for multiple patients.

The problem starts because doctors often jump to administer a broad-spectrum antibiotic while waiting for test results that will identify the exact bacteria making the patient sick. The thinking is that the type of antibiotic can be switched to a more targeted kind once the test results are in. According to Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., who oversees the CDC effort to prevent hospital-acquired infections, the overuse of antibiotics – in particular “broad-spectrum” drugs like Cipro – actually increases the risk of hospital infections because they kill a wide variety of bacteria including the good bacteria that patients need to prevent infections. He points out that while these drugs are vital to patient health in many cases; they need to be prescribed in a careful way. More narrowly targeted drugs such as amoxicillin kill fewer “good” bacteria and are therefore less likely to cause C. diff infections.

For the last decade, the protocol in the U.K. is to only use broad-spectrum drugs such as fluoroquinolones when a more narrowly targeted antibiotic doesn’t work. And the effort is paying off! While programs monitoring antibiotic use in hospitals are mandatory in Britain, the U.S. is only now getting on board. The Joint Commission, an independent nonprofit organization that accredits American healthcare facilities, just started requiring hospitals to report on their programs in January, 2017.

How can I protect myself from a hospital infection?

  • Choose an ‘Antibiotic-Smart Hospital’ if possible. Check hospital ratings on C. diff and other hospital infections.
  • Whether you’re a hospital patient or at your doctor’s office, ask which antibiotic is being prescribed and why as well as how long you should take it and any possible side effects.
  • Take a good pro-biotic alongside your prescription.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

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