New report names Chicago hospitals among the worst in the U.S. for infections

aHospitalWithCross_vectorstock_1389728The American Journal of Medical Quality recently released a report regarding hand-washing behaviors among medical staff in U.S. hospitals. Researchers found that in intensive care units, proper hand sanitation occurred only 26 percent of the time. Elsewhere, the rate of proper cleansing was only at 37 percent. As any Chicago medical malpractice lawyer knows, improper hand-washing can quickly lead to hospital-acquired infections.

These infections post a particular problem in Chicago-area hospitals, as a recent report reveals. In addition to the damaging effects these illnesses can cause patients, hospitals will now be penalized for their poor performance.

By the numbers

Nationwide, the rate of avoidable errors in hospitals has been declining. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the rate of mistakes dropped by 17 percent between 2010 and 2013. However, there is still much room for improvement.

The Chicago Tribune published a report noting that across the country, 721 hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare funding – totaling $373 million – due to hospital-acquired conditions. According to the Tribune’s report, nine Chicago-area hospitals and 27 facilities statewide were among the country’s worst when it comes to avoidable patient injuries such as infection.

Those conditions include catheter infections, bedsores, broken hips, surgical cuts and reopened wounds. As many a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer have seen, these conditions can adversely affect patients through creating additional pain and suffering as well as an increase in expense.

Research details

Medicare officials ranked hospitals on a 10-point scale, leveraging penalties against those that scored higher than a seven. In order to evaluate hospitals, researchers used the following criteria:

  • How often serious complications such as collapsed lungs occurred
  • How often patients acquired central-line bloodstream infections
  • How often patients experienced infections from bladder tubes

The Chicago Tribune notes that the measures disproportionately affected academic hospitals. Experts explain that these facilities tend to see patients who are more susceptible to catheter infections due to their complex conditions.

Why hospital-acquired infections happen

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals will experience a preventable infection. What’s more, in 2011, roughly 75,000 people died during their hospitalization due to a hospital-acquired condition.

The illnesses occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from poor conditions at the facility to medical errors. It is also possible that patients will experience a worsened condition due to simply interacting with each other. Many people who are in a hospital setting already have compromised immune systems, enabling disease to spread more easily.

Anyone who has questions regarding hospital-acquired infections and professional negligence should consult with a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

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