Hospitals Can Make You Sicker
Think the hospital is the best place to be if you're ill? Think again. Hospitals are rife with "superbugs" like MRSA, a staph infection resistant to antibiotics, and many patients admitted to hospital are becoming infected and returning home far sicker than when they arrived. Sadly, some patients never return home--staph infections can and do prove fatal, especially for older patients.
In all, 90,000 patients die each year as a result of hospital-acquired infections.
The major culprit? Health care workers don't wash their hands often enough, thus allowing germs to jump from patient to patient. The simple solution would be to require health care workers to wash their hands often, but studies have shown that it is extremely difficult to persuade health care workers to do this. So, the spread of disease marches on.
But there are other factors at work. Overcrowding, contaminated air conditioning systems, dirty ventilator tubes used in surgeries, overuse of antibiotics, etc. contribute to the problem. In fact, most patients who contract one or more staph infections while in a hospital were admitted to the hospital completely free of infection.
Beyond the pain and suffering of patients, superbugs cost the health care industry a fortune. For instance, a scheduled 4-day hospital stay for surgery that turns into a 40-day life-and-death struggle with a staph infection can end up costing a health insurance company hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a nasty bacterial infection that is resistant to a number of different antibiotics. Staph infections like MRSA are more dangerous (and far more difficult to treat) in persons with weak immune systems--making it especially dangerous for the ailing hospital population.