Hospitals can hurt you?

I remember hearing about something like this before and found it both ironic and slightly disturbing. Some patients who were admitted into hospitals ended up acquiring these infections they did not have when they went in. This happens in about 5% of hospital patients in the U.S. (or around 2 million cases a year). These hospital acquired infections (HAI) kill around 90,000 people a year. This can be quite disturbing since many of us picture hospitals as these clean sanitary places with everyone wearing masks and gloves for protection. These infections are caused by viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens. The idea here is that hospitals are essentially a gathering place for all of these diseases. There are 3 categories of risk factors for acquiring HAI.

“Iatrogenic risk factors include pathogens that are present on medical personnel hands, invasive procedures (eg, intubation, indwelling vascular lines, urine catheterization), and antibiotic use and prophylaxis. Organizational risk factors include contaminated air-conditioning systems, contaminated water systems, and staffing and physical layout of the facility (eg, nurse-to-patient ratio, open beds close together). Patient risk factors include the severity of illness, underlying immunocompromised state, and length of stay.”

With these people being in so close a proximity to each other, it makes it easier for the pathogens to move around and therefore infect more people quickly. These people will also be exposed to pathogens they may not have gotten if they did not go to the hospital. It’s actually kind of strange really. Hospitals were developed to try to help people as efficiently as possible, but they do have their problems. I’ve helped out at a hospital before and worked on ambulances. They work very hard to make sure everything is as sanitary as possible for both the patients and staff. However, it is still possible for pathogens to get around. I guess it just shows how persistent (and annoying) they can be.

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