Hospital Acquired Infections Much More Common, And More Serious Than Imagined

Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) caused more than 94,000 life-threatening infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, most of them associated with health care settings, says the CDC.

The study in the Oct. 17 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) establishes the first national baseline by which to assess future trends in invasive MRSA infections. MRSA infections can range from mild skin infections to more severe infections of the bloodstream, lungs and at surgical sites.

The study found about 85 percent of all invasive MRSA infections were associated with health care settings, of which two-thirds surfaced in the community among people who were hospitalized, underwent a medical procedure or resided in a long-term care facility within the previous year. In contrast, about 15 percent of reported infections were considered to be community-associated, which means that the infection occurred in people without documented health care risk factors.

Here’s some information about how to help prevent hospital acquired infections from a consumer standpoint, as well as some information about Healthcare-Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. By familiarizing yourself with the recommended procedures, you’ll be better able to spot a health care worker who is ignoring them.

CDC estimates 94,000 invasive drug-resistant staph infections occurred in the U.S. in 2005 [CDC]

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  1. Nothing like a watching someone walk out the bathroom without washing their hands. It’s utterly disgusting.

  2. Odiwan says:

    I’m still suffering from soreness in my left arm due to an infection cause by an I.V. I had surgery 3 weeks ago and have been through 1 round of antibiotics so far. If it gets worse I’ll have to go get something else done…Yikes!

  3. Eilonwynn says:

    We had a close friend break his hip (he’s 93) right on the US/Can border, and because the US hospital was closer, they took him there. $40k, and two weeks later, he was released – only to be put in isolation in canada for SIX WEEKS for a staph infection he had picked while there. (at least that stay was free!)

  4. kimsama says:

    This is why we need to start developing more bacteriophages and stop relying on antibiotics, which are being compromised by big agra and poor health policy.

  5. rmz says:

    @kimsama: “Big agra”?

  6. othium says:

    I went to a monthly meeting at my job yesterday and this was one of the subjects covered. Handwashing techniques and the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equiptment). Many of my fellow workers will use the bathroom and not wash their hands or fail to wash their hands between consumer cares. I’m always afraid of catching something at work and wash my hands all the time, use gloves, and disinfect as much of my working environment as I can. (No. I’m not some germophobe.) The consumers I assist are physically disabled and some of the cares involve toileting/bathing, and I have had to file many complaints with Health – Human Services Department when some of the clients came down with ilnesses brought into the home by staff that did follow the proper procedures. In their defense, I have to admit that the company does not allow us to “call-in” sick unless we find our own replacement to work for us, which means that many workers are coming in and potentially causing others to become just as sick. Pretty much the same thing hapens in restaurants too I have heard..

  7. BrockBrockman says:

    @rmz: I call my left fist “Big Agra” and my right fist “Big Pharma.” You don’t want to mess with me.

  8. darkclawsofchaos says:

    @kimsama:

    but remember, viruses can change and are not reliable, since they may mutate into a different strain that may attack human cells (even one’s own body makes that mistake, look up strep, it can case your body to attack your heart), which is dangerous, also it is difficult as what may kill the bacteria is also foreign and our immune system may destroy these viruses

  9. lincolnparadox says:

    @kimsama:
    I’m not sure if bacteriophage “antibiotics” are the best choice, mostly because of PR. We’d be better off pursuing synthetic antibody technology that could jumpstart the immune response. They are working on new kids of antibiotics, as well. They’re using modified sugars and amino acids to make drugs that have the same activity, but would be recognized differently by the bacteria. But, as always, those new drugs have to got through the long approval process.

    @rmz: RMZ– Agricultural practices in the US are considered to be one factor in the great antibiotic-resistance problem. In the past, most farmers gave their livestock prophylactic antibiotic treatments to prevent disease from ever happening. Which works. Unfortunately, some of that antibiotic comes out the backdoor. It gets into the environment and can help to select for the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria (because it will kill all of the bacteria that aren’t resistant). Also, any bacteria that make it into the meat supply, will also be antibiotic-resistant. Most vets and ag-coops are trying to steer farmers away from this practice, but the damage has already been done.

    You add this to about 50 years of overuse of antibiotics, especially in pediatrics; the clustering of antibiotic strains in hospitals due to nosocomial infections; and common use of antibacterial soap; and what you end up with is the majority of the bacteria that we encounter near people are resistant to pretty much anything we can throw at them.

  10. mookiemookie says:

    One of the most common places to find staph bacteria is in the nose. Moral of the story: don’t pick your nose.

  11. OnceWasCool says:

    I always thought this was named Staff Infection due to the staff spreading it. Right on one point anyway.

  12. @lincolnparadox: “n the past, most farmers gave their livestock prophylactic antibiotic treatments to prevent disease from ever happening. Which works.”

    Also because CAFO-raised animals are more or less sick from the time they arrive in the CAFO until they are slaughtered, particularly cows (because of diet problems caused by corn). It’s not just that they don’t want the animals to get sick; it’s that the animals are never HEALTHY and the antibiotics keep them alive and gaining weight long enough to make it onto a plate.

  13. technotica says:

    MRSA is some scary ass shit. A close relative of mine underwent knee surgery and came out of it with a MRSA infection and a 1+ year ordeal requiring multiple hospital stays, pain, and worry. The problem with this, like many infections, is that it is with you for the rest of your life. Every little cough, cold, or minor surgery will haunt you forever. It can come back and take you out. Now I have fears about going to any hospital for any reason whatsoever. This is a very serious healthcare issue that I wish was getting more attention.