While Ebola stokes public anxiety, more than one in six hospitals — including some top medical centers — are having trouble stamping out less exotic but sometimes deadly infections, federal records show.
Nationally, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection, and 75,000 people die each year from them—more than from car crashes and gun shots combined. A Kaiser Health News analysis found 695 hospitals with higher than expected rates for at least one of the six types of infections tracked by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 13 states and the District of Columbia, a quarter or more of hospitals that the government evaluated were rated worse than national benchmarks the CDC set in at least one infection category, the KHN analysis found.
The missteps Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital made this month in handling an Ebola patient echo mistakes hospitals across the nation have made in dealing with homegrown infections. Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, a patient safety expert from Kentucky, said hospitals too often don’t strictly follow protocols to deal with infectious diseases, and the government’s standard responses are not specific enough. “Right now there are too many recommendations on how to handle infectious diseases, too much leeway,” he said.
A 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine underscored the problem, observing that while hospitals have reduced the frequency...
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