If you’re in an accident or suffer an illness that requires medical care in Syracuse or anywhere in New York, you expect the hospital to be clean and safe. Unfortunately, some medical centers are breeding grounds for “superbugs” that can make patients very ill.
Superbugs are strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic drugs. While anyone – even healthy individuals – can become ill from these infectious organisms, people with open wounds, compromised immune systems and the elderly are especially susceptible.
A recent report in Verywell Health details the widespread problem of hospital infections from superbugs with scientific names such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clostridium difficile (C. Diff), vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP) and necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh-eating bacterial disease).
Some of these bugs exist in our environment and pose no threat to healthy people. C. Diff, for example, lives in the human digestive system. It doesn’t cause any problems until antibiotics are introduced for another illness. When this happens, the infected person might get much sicker because the C. Diff can rapidly colonize.
Superbugs are resilient. They can survive on surfaces for up to three days. In hospitals, anyone – patients, doctors, visitors – may come into contact with an infectious organism that may live on any ordinary object they touch, such as a computer keyboard or a remote for a television. The superbug may also reside on a medical instrument such as a stethoscope.
How widespread are hospital infections in the United States?
Hospital infections affect 1.7 million Americans, each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every day, one in 25 hospital patients nationwide has what is called a hospital-acquired nosocomial infection, or an HAI, according to HAI data and statistics reported by the CDC. Patients who undergo surgery and become infected can experience serious complications. When the pathogens enter their bloodstream, they may suffer from sepsis, a potentially life-threatening response to an infection.
Patients who become infected while in the hospital may face an extended stay – sometimes months longer than they anticipated. After a lengthy treatment for the infection, they may be able to go home with a clean bill of health.
But some patients are not as fortunate. According to the CDC, about 99,000 people in the United States die every year from HAI.
Recent reports about the prevalence of hospital infections are without question alarming. Patients needing treatment already have enough to worry about. They should not have to experience stress over the thought of become gravely ill due to a hospital infection.
Hospitals can reduce the spread of infection by making sure instruments are properly sterilized. Rooms must be thoroughly cleaned. Doctors and others working in the facility should wash their hands and always follow proper hygiene protocol.
There are a few steps people can take to reduce risks. Before checking in to a hospital, patients or their families can look up the infection rate for the facility. The New York Department of Health has information about hospitals on its website. Visit this Department of Health page for consumers to look up details of specific hospitals.
It’s also vitally important to follow standard hygiene procedures while visiting a hospital. Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching objects where a superbug might reside.
If you or a loved one does become infected because of a hospital visit, don’t try to take on the hospital on your own. You will need a strong advocate in your corner. Contact an experienced attorney at Cherundolo Law Firm, PLLC. Call (315) 449-9500 or complete the online contact form.