When you’re ill or injured the right thing to do is to see your doctor in order to get well, right? Unfortunately, for many patients, the healing process is stalled when they acquire additional infections, illnesses, and conditions as a direct result of being in the hospital.
A new program run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Systems (CMS) has penalized 721 hospitals nationwide for providing substandard patient care when it comes to hospital-acquired infections (HAI). One of the hospitals on the list was Northern Virginia’s very own Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church.
In order to increase patient care and awareness, CMS has fined all of the hospitals on the list by denying them 1% of Medicare and Medicaid payments. However, the fact remains that HAIs are currently a large problem for the hospital. This is why it is important for you know that there is a risk and to know the types of infections that are common in cases such as these.
Common HAIs to Be Aware of
HAIs are classified as any infection that is acquired by a patient while in a hospital or as a result of medical attention. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, about 1 in every 25 inpatients has an infection related to hospital care. In addition to being a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, at any given time, HAIs can have devastating emotional, financial and medical consequences. The most common HAIs are as follows:
- UTIs: unsterilized or dirty catheters are unfortunately common and cause severe urinary tract and bladder infections.
- Surgical site infections: unclean tools, unwashed hands, and a poorly sterilized operating room (including poor surgical dress—masks aren’t worn, gloves come off, etc.) can cause bacteria and viruses to come into direct contact with open wounds
- Bloodstream infections: when a central line or IV is unclean, bacteria can be introduced directly into the bloodstream causing an infection to rapidly spread throughout the body. Improperly placed IVs can also cause multiple punctures that can also become infected.
- Pneumonia: patients who are in the hospital for other conditions can contract diseases such as pneumonia from doctors, nurses, and fellow patients as a result of improper sterilization and poor hygiene.
- KPC (Klebsiella Pneumoniae Carbapenemase): a bacteria normally found in the intestines is easily spread when healthcare workers handle stool samples or clean fecal matter from patients and don’t properly wash their hands or sterilize the area.
- MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus): staph infections such as MRSA commonly occur in hospitals and healthcare settings as a result of unclean instruments and devices associated with invasive procedures, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing, or the insertion of artificial joints
Weighing in on Risk
Given the potential risks involved, do you think hospitals should have higher standards for cleanliness? Should hospitals as a whole be subject to mandatory cleanliness checks? Do you have a personal story about contracting an HAI? Tell us about it. Leave your opinions and questions in the comment section provided.
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