Sadly, being frightened for your life is a legitimate fear when entering a hospital or nursing home, even if you’re in great health. That’s because the risk of catching a life-threatening infection is dangerously high in just about all health care environments, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
HHS has made combating healthcare-associated infections a top priority, as they account for an estimated 1.7 million infections, 99,000 associated deaths and an estimated $28 to $33 billion in excess healthcare costs each year.
There have been some improvements in recent years. A Consumer Reports article found that a medical safety checklist developed by Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., has greatly reduced hospital-acquired infections from such procedures as using central-line catheters, a leading cause of hospital infections:
The checklist translated the most effective known approaches into a common-sense series of hygienic precautions to follow when inserting, using, or removing a central line. The steps require equipment no more complex than hand soap, an antiseptic solution, and sterile drapes and garb. Other key components: giving nurses the authority to make doctors follow all the steps, and measuring and reporting infection rates.
According to the Patient Safety Project, “67 Michigan hospitals implemented Pronovost’s checklist program and had dramatic results: a 66 percent reduction in central-line-associated bloodstream infections; an estimated 1,500 lives and $200 million were saved in the first 18 months alone.”
Even so, the majority of hospitals have yet to adopt the checklist and still need to take action to put an end to the ongoing but solvable problem of healthcare-associated infections. At least one member of the medical supplies industry, Kimberly-Clark Healthcare, has launched an online initiative to raise awareness as well as money to combat health-associated infections (HAI) called HAI Watchdog. Kimberly-Clark is matching all year-end gifts to the patient-safety-focused AORN Foundation up to $20,000 and awarding grants and promoting innovative HAI solutions.
John Stewart of Comedy Central has even brought a little humor to the topic of patient safety and infection prevention. Stewart’s suggestion? Designate HAI’s as terrorists:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|