Most people in the U.S. would likely believe that a hospital is the best and safest place for individuals who are ill and in need of medical care and treatment. However, the results of a recent study are alarming and indicate that hospitals may in fact pose hidden and deadly health risks for the elderly and very sick.
In recent years, the risks posed by healthcare-associated infections have come to light. Among the most dangerous of these identified infections is clostridium difficile or C. difficile. The Centers for Disease and Control reports that, during a 2011 outbreak, C. difficile impacted nearly 500,000 patients at U.S. hospitals, roughly 29,000 of which "died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis."
An estimated 30,000 patients die from C. difficile infections annually and a recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan revealed that many hospitals aren't doing enough to protect patients from the deadly bacterial infection.
For the study, researchers examined the infection prevention and control methods employed by some 400 U.S. hospitals. The study's findings indicate that, while hospitals appear to be aware of how to prevent and development and spread of C. difficile, roughly 50 percent aren't doing enough to be effective in their efforts.
Most notably, researchers found that hospitals aren't doing enough to control and limit antibiotic use, which is known to increase the likelihood that an individual may be exposed to the dangerous bacteria. Additionally, approximately 75 percent of those hospitals surveyed have failed to establish clear policies on how to test and identify patients who are at a high risk of C. difficult exposure.
Source: HealthDay, "Half of U.S. Hospitals Could Do More to Prevent Serious Infections, Study Finds," April 29, 2015