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Should Hospitals Change Their Approach to Preventing Staph Infections?

Posted on June 1, 2015 by Kelly Wolford
Our medical malpractice attorneys in Albany NY discuss if hospitals should change their approach to preventing staph infections.

Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that HAIs – “hospital-acquired infections” or “healthcare-associated infections” – are a serious problem in New York and in hospitals and clinics across the country, including staph infections such as MRSA. Because these infections are largely preventable, they are often cited as examples of hospital negligence.

However, new research suggests that hospitals can improve their ability to prevent the spread of these infections – and improve the quality of patient care – by simply washing patients in a soap that is commonly found in hospitals.

As Medical News Today reports, researchers recently presented the results of a study of MRSA contaminations in three intensive care units over a six-month period. The presentation took place at a meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

The researchers said they discovered that fewer instances of MRSA contaminations occurred when patients were bathed in the soap, chlorhexidine, than when they were subjected to a “contact precautions” approach that involves staff wearing gloves, gowns and other protective equipment.

Even though the CDC currently recommends the “contact precautions” approach, that strategy may lead to even more problems due to isolation of patients, the researchers say.

Although more studies will need to be conducted, the researchers say their initial findings may be pointing the way to “a relatively inexpensive and effective way to prevent the spread of potentially deadly hospital-acquired infections and improve patient care,” Medical News Today reports.

New Approach Needed to Address Major Patient Safety Issue

It is clear that more needs to be done to address the issue of MRSA infections and other hospital-acquired infections, including bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections and C. difficile infections.

According to the CDC, 1 in 25 hospital patients suffer from a healthcare-associated infection. In 2011 alone, an estimated 722,000 HAIs were reported in the U.S., and 75,000 patients with HAIs died while hospitalized, the CDC states.

Infections involving MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – are especially dangerous. This is because MRSA resists antibiotics that are used to treat other types of staph infections.

WebMD states that MRSA can infect the skin, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, urinary tract or lungs. The infection can weaken one’s immune system and become deadly when it is combined with another illness such as the flu.

Unfortunately, in a 2015 progress report, the CDC reported that the rate of MRSA infections in New York hospitals was slightly higher than the national baseline.

If you or a loved one has suffered a staph infection or other infection after being treated at a hospital, you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Powers & Santola, LLP, to learn more about your legal rights.

In many cases, a hospital’s negligence may have led to a patient becoming infected. However, in many other cases, a hospital may be liable for failing to effectively diagnose and treat the disease.

Our legal team can provide a thorough investigation of your case and help you to assess your legal options as you move forward. It starts by contacting us today.