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More Hospital Acquired Infections Are Causing Death

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that half of all deaths caused by infections such as sepsis and pneumonia resulted from an infection acquired in a hospital. In 2006, sepsis and pneumonia were the causes of death of 48,000 people and added $8.1 billion to healthcare costs.

The study was published on February 22, 2010, and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in association with a project researching antibiotic resistance called Extending the Cure. The study concludes “Health care-associated sepsis and pneumonia impose substantial clinical and economic costs.”

The findings were based on 69 million hospital discharges in 40 states between 1998 and 2006. Only infections acquired within a hospital were included in the data. Length of stay in the hospital, hospital costs and in-hospital mortality were estimated from the discharge information.

Sepsis is an infection of the bloodstream and pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. Both infections are usually caused by bacteria or a virus. Pneumonia causes more deaths worldwide than any other infectious disease including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The infections can be prevented by using proper precautions and sanitary hospital procedures.

Medicare has announced that they will not pay hospitals for the total costs of care made necessary by “preventable complications” such as hospital acquired infections. This may cause some hospitals to provide misinformation regarding infections to avoid penalties from insurance companies like Medicare.

Pneumonia can be prevented with various vaccines including the seasonal flu vaccine. Some hospitals claim they do not have the funds available to implement infection control programs and use the available vaccines for every patient. Proper funding for these programs could reduce the risk of infections spreading and reduce overall healthcare costs.

If you are one of the many patients that have acquired an infection at a hospital, seek medical attention and contact a San Jose medical malpractice lawyer immediately at (408) 289-1417.

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