July 10, 2009
By Althea Chang / Mainstreet.com
If the Obama administration devoted some of the $787 billion in economic stimulus funds to preventing deadly infections rampant in some hospital environments, billions of dollars would be saved in the long run, notes Consumer Reports… and not just by doctors.
How Infections Can Cost Us
Hospital acquired infections, by staph bacteria, for instance, slams patients with expensive bills and days of missed work. But they’re preventable, and health care reforms haven’t done enough to prevent them, according to Consumer Reports. Beyon that, hospital acquired infections costs the institutions $35 billion to $45 billion a year, according to Bill Vaughan, policy analyst for Consumers Union.
One especially difficult infection spreading in hospitals is MRSA, a type of staph skin infection caused by bacteria resistant to common antibiotics. Staph is present on the skin of about 25% to 30% of the population without causing an infection, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, but surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia can also be caused by staph infections. People with weakened immune systems, like hospital patients, may be more likely to get an infection.
An Ounce of Prevention
Just like recommendations to prevent the spread of the H1N1 swine flu, everyday prevention methods are basic.
To prevent getting or spreading an infection, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizers, keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed, avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages and avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
In addition, to prevent the spread of staph bacteria, the CDC urges) those with infections to tell any healthcare providers of their condition to avoid spreading it to them and other patients.
July 10, 2009