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Hospital hygiene

U.S. hospitals fail basic hygiene standards; infections worsen

Thursday, November 23, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: hospital hygiene, infection control, hospitals

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(NewsTarget) Three new studies have determined that infections in hospitals come from the unsanitary conditions in the hospitals themselves, and not from sick patients. As a result, these new studies provide evidence for experts who argue that hospitals could prevent many of the growing number of infections that afflict patients nationwide

Infections from dirty hospitals also cost billions of dollars to treat, and are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. David B. Nash, chairman of the Department of Health Policy at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said "It's the process, not the patients … these three groups independently found that despite hospitals' claim that in the sickest patients it's inevitable that someone is going to get a hospital-acquired infection, that's just not the case."

According to Nash, health professionals should do more to promote hand-washing among medical staff in addition to taking greater care in donning gowns and other infection-preventing clothing during medical procedures. Nash also suggested that reducing traffic in and out of operating rooms was needed, as well as isolating patients when necessary and using antibiotics more selectively as potential solutions to the problem.

Studies in recent years have determined that patients with hospital-acquired infections spend many more days in the hospital, undergo more extensive procedures and are more likely to die than patients who do not contract the same infections. In fact, this lingering problem has been the subject of congressional hearings and reports by the Federal Institute of Medicine.

Nash also said the government could do more to educate the public and encourage hospitals to report infections in addition to patients asking doctors and nurses if they washed their hands before treatment occurs.

Nancy Foster -- vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital Association -- said that hospitals agree with Nash's suggestions.

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