Infections that have been nearly eradicated in some other countries are raging through hospitals here in the United States. The major reason? Poor hygiene. In fact, hygiene is so inadequate in most American hospitals that one out of every 20 patients contracts an infection during a hospital stay. Hospital infections kill an estimated 103,000 people in the United States a year, as many as AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined.As much as I am a fan of high tech solutions, if washing hands could save 103,000 lives and $30 billion, I think that the doctors ought to look into that.
Hospitals in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands once faced similar rates, but brought them down to below 1 percent. How? Through the rigorous enforcement of rules on hand washing, the meticulous cleaning of equipment and hospital rooms, the use of gowns and disposable aprons to prevent doctors and nurses from spreading germs on clothing and the testing of incoming patients to identify and isolate those carrying the germ.
These infections add about $30 billion annually to the nation's health costs. This tab will increase rapidly as more infections become drug-resistant.
via New York Times