Examining Efforts To Reduce Hospital Infections

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Hospital Infections

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USA Todayon Tuesday examined how physicians, patient safety advocates andfederal officials have begun "mobilizing to prevent the infections thathave stricken an increasing number of hospital patients over the pastthree decades." According to a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of reported bloodstream infections related to catheters that occur in hospitals has almost tripled since 1975, and CDC estimates that about 80,000 such infections occur in intensive care units annually.

In response, the Institute for Healthcare Improvementrecommends that hospitals adopt policies that require physicians andnurses to wash their hands and implement other preventive measures. A2004 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians wash their hands only 57% of the time.

In addition, CMS in August announced a new ruleunder which Medicare after September 2008 no longer will reimbursehospitals for the treatment of preventable errors, injuries andinfections that occur in the facilities. Patient safety advocatespraised the rule but raised concerns that the regulation does notinclude infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Donaghue, USA Today, 10/16).
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