Hospital Infections

Hospital Infections
By: Holly Brantley

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher remains in the hospital after recovering from an infection as a result of gallbladder surgery. A spokesperson for the Governor says Fletcher has now gone 24 hours without a fever. He’ll also get a CT scan tomorrow to look at fluid in his pelvis. The Governor went into a Lexington Hospital last week to have gallstones removed. His recovery was set back after he developed a dangerous infection in his blood.
So, how often do patients get infections in the hospital?
Nearly two million patients in the United States will get infections in the hospital this year. About 90,000 of those will die as a result. Those numbers are according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Missouri’s Emerging Infections Coordinator, Eddie Hedrick, says about 30% to 50% of these infections are preventable by the hospitals. So, why does it happen? First, the patients are older. Keeping them alive means using invasive devices that go through the skin.  Making them more prone to getting an infection. Does that mean the hospital is at fault? Hedrick says not necessarily. Bacteria on the patient’s own body could contribute to some infections. So what’s being done to protect you?
Dr. Stanley Sprei is the laboratory medical director at Lourdes hospital in Paducah. He says every hospital in the country makes this a top priority. “What’s important is this is something the medical community is very award of. And, we’re constantly looking for the latest ways to defeat this bacteria,” said Sprei.
Missouri and Illinois passed laws in 2004 requiring hospitals to publicly report healthcare-associated infections. Committees are at work on those reports right now. They will be published in January of 2007. Eddie Hedrick tells me it’s situations like Governor Fletcher’s that often lead to a push for mandatory reporting.