Epidemic Proportions. Statistics ...

The New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2004;350:1422-9) states that as many as 1 hospital patient in 10 in the United States acquires a nosocomial infection; that's 2,000,000 patients a year. More than 80,000 people die each year from these virulent bacteria they acquire during medical procedures and/or while being cared for in trusted healthcare facilities. Estimates of the annual cost as high as $11,000,000,000.

Shockingly, TWICE as many people die from Hospital Acquired Infections as the number of people who die annually from Breast Cancer (41,000) or automobile accidents (39,189 in 2005.) Nationally, 5X as many people die from Hospital Acquired Infections annually as die of AIDS.

Nosocomial infections have nightmarish, far-reaching consequences even if you are fortunate enough to recover from yours. I am left with a lifelong incurable immune disease after recovering from mine. Before our son died the bacteria he was infected with pushed part of his brain into his spinal cord and killed the nerves he needed to breathe or move, causing him to become a ventilator dependent quadripilegic.

220 people per DAY in the United States are dying from Hospital Acquired Infections and yet no one seems to be batting an eye. Perhaps it's not as media-sexy as the scarier sounding Bird Flu or Anthrax but if you add up the number of national annual mortalities from AIDS, Bird Flu, West Nile Virus, Rabies, Anthrax and the war in Iraq all put together, there are still more people dying from infections they accidentally caught in our country's healthcare system.

Somebody needs to pay attention pretty quickly. So far, this silent epidemic, this unbelievable healthcare debacle is being addressed in a cavalier manner with “acceptable” casualties considered okay.

Trust me when I tell you this - When it's a treasured loved one's life at stake, there is no such thing as an acceptable casualty.