Throughout Pennsylvania, hospital employees strive to keep the environment safe for patients. The goal is to focus on health and healing, but this does not mean there are no risks associated with a hospital stay. Though extreme efforts are usually taken to keep hospitals sanitary and reduce the risk for the spread of disease and development of infection, there are patients admitted to hospitals who actually experience a worsening of health during or after their stay.
Though hospitals are staffed by hard working people, there are times when they are just stretched too thin. Doctors and nurses are human and can make mistakes that put patients at risk. Patients are also unaware of the various risks associated with their procedures and their time in the hospital. A comprehensive approach is needed to protect patients and reduce the risks associated with various treatments and procedures. Until the danger associated with a hospital stay is somehow completely eliminated, which might be impossible, patients must be aware of their risks and take the proper precautions.
What are the most common problems faced by patients in Pennsylvania hospitals?
- Prescription and medication errors: Patients sometimes receive the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of medication, both of which put them at serious risk.
- Deep vein thrombosis: This condition occurs when a blood clot forms deep in the veins. If a clot breaks free, it can affect oxygen flow to the lungs, triggering a pulmonary embolism.
- Pneumonia: Patients in the intensive care unit or on ventilators face an extremely high risk for developing pneumonia. The CDC estimates hospital pneumonia mortality rates at more than 33%.
- Anesthesia complications: Some patients experience a negative reaction to the administration of anesthesia. It is recommended they choose a local anesthesia whenever reasonable because it poses fewer risks.
- Post-operative bone fractures, hematomas, and hemorrhages
- Post-operative wound dehiscence
- Post-operative sepsis
- Accidental lacerations or punctures during an operation
- Negative reaction to blood transfusions
- Obstetrics trauma
- Other hospital infections
Common Hospital Infections
Unfortunately, hospital infections across the country are quite common. The CDC regularly reports more than 1.7 million healthcare related infections every year. Yearly data typically shows a high incidence of urinary tract infections and infections at a surgical wound site. MRSAs, which are staph infections resistant to antibiotics, are also growing in frequency. A 2007 study showed one in 20 hospital patients suffers directly from or becomes a carrier of an MRSA after their hospital stay. The risk of MRSA can be reduced by frequent hand washing and the administration of antibiotics, before and after surgery.
What are the Most Common Infection Issues in Pennsylvania Hospitals?
Some of the most common infections that occur in Pennsylvania hospitals include:
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
There were a total of 1,840 MRSAs reported in 2011, which comprised a little more than 8% of all hospital infections for the year. The majority were skin and soft tissue infections, followed by cardiovascular infections and surgical site infections, respectively. Numerous pneumonia and blood stream infections were also reported.
Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTIs)
Urinary tract infections accounted for the second highest number of infections in 2011. There were 5,063 reported UTIs total, more than half of which were associated with catheters. These results were compiled from 92% of Pennsylvania’s 254 hospitals reporting data.
Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSIs)
The 222 Pennsylvania hospitals using central lines have reported significant decline in CLABSIs since Act 52 was signed into law.
Surgical Site Infections (SSIs)
There were 1,206 SSIs reported in 2011. This was out of a total of 95,034 procedures that put patients at risk for this type of infection. This showed a nearly 6% decline in the number of SSIs from 2010. Data focused on certain surgical procedures benchmarked for evaluation, including cardiac surgery, coronary bypass graft, knee arthroplasty, hip arthroplasty, and abdominal hysterectomy. A 12-month follow-up period required for patients receiving implants, so the information collected was from surgeries performed in 2010.
How Patients Can Protect Themselves
The average person assumes when he or she is admitted to a hospital it will result in an improvement in health. Unfortunately, for those who experience hospital infections, this is not the case. This is why it is so important for patients to take responsibility for their own health and do the same for loved ones during a hospital stay. Even if you might feel as though you are questioning authority, it is important to speak up if anything seems out of place or unusual. Doing so can mean the difference between life and death.
How We Can Help
If you are interested in learning about hospital care or the risks associated with a hospital stay, we can help. You are entitled to information and you need to understand your risks while receiving treatment in a hospital. Likewise, if you or a loved one has suffered an infection as the result of a stay in a hospital, it is within your rights to take action. Contact us for more information.