Shocking headline reads, “Georgia Ranks Near Bottom on Hospital Infections.”  This information comes to light as the result of new federal reporting requirements for hospitals.  And it may save some lives.  Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta says doctors are inherently competitive people, and don’t want to be labeled as “near the bottom” of anything.

Nearly 5 percent of patients acquire an infection when they go for medical treatment.  Great!  Go to the hospital for healing and end up with some awful infection.  It’s a huge problem, yet preventable.  Of special interest currently are central line associated bloodstream infections.  In the past, doctors thought these to be unavoidable.  New research suggests, however, that with new protocols in use, and with each healthcare provider following the rules, every time and with every patient, the majority of the 30,000 annual deaths related to central line associated bloodstream infections can be prevented.  How many is the majority?

With this new information available to the public, Georgia hospitals have launched new efforts to make improvements.  And they are making great strides toward this goal with some Georgia hospitals now leaders in infection prevention.  One has formed teams of doctors, nurses and other staff to develop strategies for improvement in preventing infections.  Experts say that this sort of culture, with staff members at every level engaged in infection prevention, saves lives.

Others encourage patients to ask questions and express concerns about their care.  Watchful eyes observe the hospital staff in their compliance with infection control protocols.

All of the hospitals claim to be making progress and many are.  But here is a thought:  are the doctors comfortable putting their own family members in these hospitals?  If not, then the infection prevention measures employed need more tweaking!  And if you think about it, no hospital can afford to ignore this multimillion dollar problem, or believe that they have already done enough.  With lives on the line, there is never enough.

While progress continues and new ideas and methodologies are developed, there are some basic things that we can all do to curb infections.  Always, always, always use proper hand hygiene!  Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment including gloves, gowns, masks and caps.  Use the most effective skin antiseptics.

Infections are expensive.  Infections are dangerous.  Infections are preventable.  Think about that the next time you are tempted to walk out of that patient’s room without using proper hand hygiene.  Just like in any profession or endeavor, improvement and success come from mastering The Basics!

Information for this blog was taken from an article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution titled “Georgia ranks near bottom on hospital infections”  BY CARRIE TEEGARDIN