• Hospital-Acquired Infections Affect Patients of All Ages
  • March 19, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • A new study by researchers from the University of South Carolina in Charleston was presented at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and discussed patients' increased risk of infection the longer they stayed in the hospital.

    The researchers found through their analysis of 949 patients who were hospitalized between 1998 and 2011 that the likelihood of the patients becoming infected with a multidrug resistant gram-negative pathogen rose with every day they were in the facility. In fact, each day the patients stayed in the hospital, their risk of infection rose 1 percent.

    Gram-negative infections cause a variety of ills including pneumonia, bloodstream infections and meningitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These infections are becoming increasingly resistant to many medications, which makes them more dangerous to hospital patients.

    Infections in hospitalized children
    A separate study by researchers in Tennessee and Massachusetts found the number of hospital-acquired infections in children fell between 2007 and 2012. During that time, the 173 hospitals that provided the authors with data reduced the rate of bloodstream infections in the neonatal intensive care units from 4.9 per 1000 central-line days to 1.5 per 1000 central-line days. In pediatric intensive care units, bloodstream infections decreased from 4.7 to 1.0 per 1000 central-line days.

    The rate of pneumonia decreased in both NICUs and PICUs in that time period. However, the number of urinary tract infections did not change in PICUs.

    There's been a push to reduce infections in the U.S., according to HealthDay, particularly in hospitals most vulnerable patients - infants and the critically ill.

    "The biggest contributor to overcoming these infections is a culture change," said lead researcher Dr. Stephen Patrick from Vanderbilt University. "When I walk into the NICU, I take off all my rings, I don't wear a tie, and I don't wear a white coat. It's an entire mindset of what can I do to prevent infection in this patient, and that's a real culture shift that's happened in the last several years."

    Preventing infections
    Infections are dangerous on their own, but the harm they can inflict is increasing as more pathogens become resistant to many common medications. The CDC recognizes that hospital-acquired infections are a threat to patient safety and provides guidelines and action plans for physicians and medical facilities to follow to reduce the risk of patients becoming infected.

    Some of the CDC's main infection prevention guidelines are:
    • Maintaining unobstructed urine flow in patients
    • Properly inserting and removing catheters using sterile equipment and aseptic technique
    • Using catheters for the briefest period of time necessary
    • Following the agency's recommended hand washing standards