There’s some good news in the years-long crusade against Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs): they’re finally on the decline.
As life sometimes goes, the HAI problem got worse before it began to get to better. In the last few years, though, we’ve seen a tremendous response from both private industry and the federal government in the face of mounting HAIs.
All that hard work is paying off, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Health’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Let’s take a look at the HAI problem, why it’s getting better, and what the new numbers mean.
The Problem with Hospital-Acquired Infections
Because hospitals are home to many sick people, they’re breeding grounds for infection. Doctors, nurses, and facility managers work very hard to keep hospitals sanitary, continually disinfecting surfaces in order to protect patients.
Air is much harder to sanitize, though. Unfortunately, microorganisms carry airborne pathogens throughout hospitals, circulating through HVAC systems and spreading with every step, sneeze, and linen fold.
MRSA, C. diff, norovirus, and influenza are just a few of the nasty viruses and infections that travel by air. They can cause severe complications in patients who are already suffering, particularly the elderly. In fact, HAIs kill more people each year than car accidents and breast cancer combined.
Why Hospital-Acquired Infections Are on the Decline
Up until 2011, HAIs were on a fast and steady rise. Since then, though, we’ve seen the numbers drop — slowly at first, and then rapidly beginning last year. In total, the rate of HAIs nationwide declined by 17% between 2011 and 2013.
Why the sudden reversal of fortune? Private industry gets part of the credit. Not only have hospitals themselves ramped up their efforts to combat HAIs, but a number of technological advancements have also made it possible to kill microorganisms at the cellular level while they’re still airborne.
The federal government’s played a role too. A series of mandated reforms, including some stemming from the Affordable Care Act, have required hospitals to cut down on their rates of preventable error. Some of those errors were directly linked to the earlier rise in HAIs.
Rapid Turnaround is Good News for Patients
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, many of the people we represent are hospital patients. We know that they are concerned about the quality of healthcare they receive. Over the last few years, we’ve seen first-hand the risk that HAIs pose to the people who rely on hospital occupancy to stay well.
That’s why we’re so happy to see such good news coming this quickly in the war on HAIs. Positive change doesn’t always take effect so rapidly, so this most recent news leaves us feeling optimistic for a future in which HAIs will hopefully continue to decline.
In the meantime, if you need assistance in addressing concerns with the quality of care in a hospital or healthcare facility, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
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