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Originally published July 29 2011

Visiting a hospital far riskier than flying in an airplane

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) They say that flying is the safest way to travel, but who would have thought that it is even safer than visiting a hospital?

Yes it is, according to the World Health Organization, which recently appointed a "health czar" to inform doctors and hospitals to take such earth-shattering measures as washing their hands.

The WHO named Liam Donaldson, Great Britain's former chief medical officer, to combat what the global health watchdog claims is a growing problem around the world - worsening health conditions inside hospitals.

In Canada, the WHO's Report on the Burden of Endemic Health Care-Associated Infection Worldwide 2011 said the "health-care-associated infection rate" of patients is 11.6 percent, one of the worst levels among developed countries. In the U.S., the report said, it's much lower - 4.5 percent. The European Centre for Disease Control says Europe's overall rate is 7.1 percent.

"Health care still has not achieved the level of safety of many other high-risk industries," Donaldson told a news conference in Geneva, according to the Vancouver Sun. "Citizens of countries around the world find it incredible that errors lead to patients getting the wrong operation or the wrong medication, sometimes with fatal consequences."

What's more, he said, hospital patients worldwide had a 1-in-10 chance of being victims of a medical error, and that one in 300 of those patients would die from that mistake. Only one in 10 million people are victims of airline fatalities, he said.

Donaldson added that while medication errors are fairly common in hospitals, care and fall associated accidents harm patients fairly frequently.

Healthcare, he said, is a "high-risk" business because it's delivered in a "fast-moving, high-pressured environment, involving a lot of complex technology and a lot of people."

Hospital-related injuries and deaths have been a problem in the U.S. for years. A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1995, said that 280,000 patients died each year from hospital accidents, and that more than 1 million are injured.

Moreover, hospitals are full of infection-causing bacteria - superbugs, if you will - and other microbes that are resistant to antibiotics and kill as many as 48,000 patients a year.

Besides the resistance, bad infection control habits by hospital staff increase the likelihood of contracting a superbug related ailment is a sickness that can kill you.

What can be done? One of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce the spread and destruction of these superbugs is, quite simply, for hospital staff to just wash their hands.

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