How To

Hospital infections kill someone every six minutes

The CDC claims that 1.7 million people become infected while at a hospital, but according to RID: The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, the actual number of infections at hospitals each year is much, much higher.

On average, a patient DIES AT A HOSPITAL due to a hospital-related infection every six minutes.  RID says it’s at least 103,000 (preventable?) deaths a year, causing up to $30 billion in hospital costs.

It’s the fourth leading cause of death, with heart disease, cancer, and strokes taking the top three spots.

Bennett and Brachman's Hospital Infections
Bennett and Brachman’s Hospital Infections

So what are some things that you should do to avoid becoming another statistic?

Elizabeth Bailey has an answer for you, and all you have to do is pay attention to The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep you Safe, Sane & Organized.  All you really have to do is “pay attention, ask questions, and never assume that hospitals don’t make errors.”

For example, there’s nothing wrong with questioning why you’re being given medications, or what those medications are for.  By using a set of organized checklists, you can be sure that you understand the care that is being provided to you and that you know what’s going on around you.

So since we’re on checklists, here’s a list of 15 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HOSPITAL INFECTION, courtesy of RID.

  • Insist everyone around you washes their hands regularly
  • Insist on a clean stethescope
  • Ask for a central line catheter that is treated to minimize infections
  • Ask for a surgeon with a low infection rate
  • Use chlorhexidine soap daily before you have surgery
  • Be tested for MRSA before you get to the hospital
  • Stop smoking.
  • Insist on a pre-surgery antibiotic
  • Insist on being kept warm during surgery
  • Use clippers, not a razor, if hair needs to be removed around the surgical location
  • Watch where you place your fork and knife while eating in the hospital
  • Insist on having your glucose monitored during surgery
  • Avoid a urinary tract catheter
  • Insist your IV be changed every few days
  • All the above apply if you’re having a Cesarean section too.
  • Insist on using a hospital with an overall low infection rate anyway

You’ll want to click the link to RID for more details on why each item is important, so don’t just take Web Watch’s word on it.