Patients go to the hospital to improve their health, but each year 1.7 million Americans become worse when they suffer a healthcare-associated infection (HAI). These infections may involve deadly bacteria like clostridium difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus (MRSA) and E. coli. What’s especially frightening is that HAIs have been trending upward for years.
The Alliance for Aging Research (AAR), a nonprofit, recently released a fact sheet illustrating the dangerous nature of healthcare-associated infections. Some of the facts include:
- About 1 in 20 hospitalized patients will suffer a HAI
- Elderly patients are 2.5 times more likely to develop an infection
- More than 90 percent of HAI-related fatalities are people 65 and older
Perhaps the most terrifying part of the AAR fact sheet is the section on the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. Pharmaceutical companies rapidly developed new antibacterial agents throughout the 80s and 90s, creating more than 40 during that era, but the innovation has now slowed to a near standstill. Only 1 new antibiotic was developed during the past 4 years because it’s become economically infeasible to develop such agents.
The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified HAIs as one of the biggest threats to the healthcare industry and has encouraged hospitals, nursing homes and clinics to take added precautions to thwart the deadly superbugs.
The U.S. health industry needs to launch two initiatives to reverse the deadly trend of HAIs. First, hospitals need to immediately adopt best practices for infection control. Second, the government needs to incentivize the development of new antibiotics. These two measures could help save the 99,000 deaths caused each year by healthcare-associated infections.
If your loved one has died or became seriously ill because of a healthcare-associated infection, an experienced medical negligence attorney can help evaluate your case and provide you with legal options.
McKeen & Associates, PC, is a national medical malpractice law firm based in Detroit, Michigan. The firm has secured numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for its clients. It has the resources to serve patients and families anywhere in the country.
Source: MedPage Today, “HAIs Growing Problem, Group Says,” David Pittman, July 22, 2013