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Proper Hand Hygiene Can Prevent Many Hospital Infections

The rate at which patients acquire infections in the hospital is disturbingly high. Estimates are that such infections affect 1 of every 20 patients. Indeed, so many people die from them that hospital-acquired infections rank in the top ten among causes of death in the country.
In many cases, the infections are the result of medical malpractice.
What are some of the steps that medical care providers should be taking to prevent hospital-acquired infections?
Proper hand hygiene is utterly basic, yet also crucial. Protocols for washing hands at appropriate times need to be in place and need to be strictly followed.
Careful sterilization of medical equipment is also important. So is the removal of catheter lines that are not really necessary; those lines can breed bacteria.
Hospitals will soon be facing closer scrutiny than in the past on how frequently infections occur. Under the new healthcare law, hospitals with rates of infection that are above the national average could lose part of their Medicare funding.
The amount these hospitals would lose is not large: only one percent. And the loss of funds does not take effect until 2015. But the trend is nonetheless toward more transparency concerning hospital-acquired infections.
Particular sources of potential infection that will come in for increased scrutiny include medical devices such as catheters and ventilators. Surgical sites are also common sources of potential infection, because of the risk that bacteria will get into the system there.
Tracking the data, however, is only part of the solution. The most immediate way to prevent hospital-acquired infections is for doctors and other medical staff to wash their hands well before interacting with patients.

Author

Jay W. Dankner

JAY W. DANKNER was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York. After graduation from law school in 1973, he joined the firm of the legendary, Harry H, Lipsig, under whose tutelage he learned the intricacies of civil litigation and trials. He tried and won his first case against General Motors in a case involving a design defect within weeks after his admission. Thereafter, he focused his attention on the emerging and developing field of law known as products liability litigation.

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