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]