Many US hospitals fall short in preventing infections

Many U.S. hospitals fall short in preventing infections
Study authors consider findings 'a call to action.'

(HealthDay)—Many U.S. hospitals don't follow rules meant to protect patients from preventable and potentially deadly infections, a new study shows.

Researchers examined adherence to control policies in more than 1,600 intensive care units at 975 hospitals across the nation.

They focused on three of the most common types of preventable infections in hospitals: central line-associated bloodstream infections; catheter-associated urinary tract infections; and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

About one in 10 hospitals did not have checklists to prevent , and one in four did not have checklists to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia. About one-third of hospitals had no policy to prevent catheter-associated .

"Hospitals aren't following the rules they put in place themselves to keep patients safe," team leader Patricia Stone, a professor of health policy at Columbia University School of Nursing, said in a Columbia news release. "Rules don't keep patients from dying unless they're enforced."

Even when hospitals had checklists, they were followed only about half of the time, the researchers report in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Each year in the United States, health care-associated infections cause about 100,000 deaths and lead to about $33 billion in extra medical costs, according to background information with the study.

"Every should see this research as a call to action—it's just unconscionable that we're not doing every single thing we can, every day, for every patient, to avoid preventable infections," Stone said.

One way that hospitals can improve compliance with infection control rules is to have an electronic monitoring system that tracks if health care workers are following infection control rules. Previous research has shown that these systems reduce infection rates. Only about one-third of the ICUs in the study had this type of system.

Another approach is to have staff who are certified in , but more than one-third of the hospitals in the study did not have a full-time person with such qualifications, the researchers noted.

More information: The National Patient Safety Foundation outlines how hospital patients can protect themselves from infections.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study estimates costs of health-care-associated infections

Sep 02, 2013

A study estimates that total annual costs for five major health care-associated infections (HAIs) were $9.8 billion, with surgical site infections contributing the most to overall costs, according to a report published by ...

Recommended for you

Ebola: timeline of a ruthless killer

3 hours ago

Here are key dates in the current Ebola epidemic, the worst ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever which first surfaced in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

23 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.