When a senior citizen suffers an infection in a hospital intensive care unit, his risks of dying within the next five years increase significantly.
According to the results of a new study published recently in the American Journal of Infection Control, elderly patients in an intensive care unit who contract an infection during their stay in the hospital were 35% more likely to die within five years of being discharged from the hospital. The research was based an analysis of more than 17,500 senior citizens on Medicare and admitted to hospitals in 2002.
The rates of fatality after being discharged from the hospital increased significantly based on individual infections. For instance, the research found that 75% of all patients who suffered from central line associated bloodstream infections died within five years after being discharged from the hospital, while 77% of patients who contracted ventilator-associated pneumonia died during the same period of time.
The research also found that hospitals that invest in effective infection control programs can make a significant difference in the life-span of its patients. For instance, those hospitals willing to make the investment increased the lifespan of its ICU patients’ lives by an average of 15.55 years. Programs specifically designed to address the reduction of ventilator-associated pneumonia helped extend patients’ lives by approximately 11 years. Hospitals only needed to spend approximately $14,500 in infection control measures, and in the case of central line associated bloodstream infection those measures resulted in savings of approximately $174,000. A savings of $163,000 was realized in the case of ventilator-associated pneumonia.
The findings are clear. Hospitals that invest in infection control measures to help reduce the risk of patient harm prolong patient lives and reduce overall costs. Often, the steps that are needed to reduce the risk of infections are basic and so many lives could be saved every year simply by implementing these simple measures.
For instance, increasing the rate of hand washing in hospitals by installing more hand washing stations and encouraging nurses to wash their hands frequently before and after attending to a patient can help reduce the risk of several types of deadly infections, including the new superbug infections. Maintaining barriers between the nurse and the patient during catheter changes, using recommended best processes for catheter handling, and other steps can help reduce central line-associated infections. These infection programs are easy to implement, cost-effective, and can have long-term benefits in the number of patient lives saved and patient harm averted.
If you have suffered an injury due to medical negligence in a hospital, you could be eligible for a claim for damages. Speak to an Indiana medical malpractice attorney at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP.