According to WebMD, some 99,000 Americans die each year from preventable hospital infections. While this is an alarming number, the more disturbing fact is that the nation’s hospitals are only beginning to deal with the problem. For years, government officials assumed hospitals knew their infection rates but declined to make them public. In fact, most hospitals weren’t tracking the data and had no idea about their actual infection rates.
Lisa McGiffert, who as campaign manager for Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project advocates for states to push hospitals to track the data.
“When we started, we thought hospitals knew their infection rates and were keeping them secret. But they were not tracking them at all. If you are not aware of something you can’t stop it. Where hospitals have been forced to face this and count it, it has created a sea change,” McGiffert told WebMD.
Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary has vowed to change the culture in which these statistics are not tracked. “All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico recently published state action plans to reduce hospital-acquired infections,” Sebelius says in a news release.
Once the infection data is collected and reported to the Centers for Disease Control it is hoped that prevention measures can be implemented so that the number of patient deaths from hospital infections will be drastically reduced.
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