MRSA Report Cites Irresponsibility Everywhere

My colleague Betsy McCaughey, chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, publishes in July’s Best Hospitals 2007 of US News and World Report that hospitals must begin to take responsibility for their infection rates, and begin to take the necessary steps to clean themselves up.

She cites a study that shows that “65 percent of physicians and other medical professionals admitted they hadn’t washed their lab coat in at least a week, even though they knew it was dirty. Nearly 16 percent said they hadn’t put on a clean lab coat in at least a month. Lab coats become covered in bacteria when doctors lean over the bedsides of patients who carry the organisms. Days later the bacteria are still alive, repeatedly contaminating doctors’ hands and being carried to other patients.”

MRSA and other infectious agents are everywhere in hospitals.  McCaughey talks about measurements infectious agents on stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, EKG wires, plus the patient’s bedside TV remotes, telephones and the like.

And why is all this important?  Because HAIs, hospital acquired infections, (those are infections that patients pick up while they are in the hospital, in addition to whatever problems they had when they were admitted) account for tens of thousands of deaths each year in the US alone. 

Imagine going into the hospital for a routine surgery, only to die from an infection you got while you were there?

The problem is — all the important players are playing ostrich.  The CDC does not require testing.  JCAHO, the organization that accredits hospitals doesn’t even check into infection rates.  According to the article, Joint Commission standards don’t specify how rooms should be cleaned or what bacterial levels are unacceptable. Asked whether bacterial levels should be measured, Robert Wise, JCAHO’s vice president for standards and survey methods answers: “You can only ask hospitals to do so much.”

I guess it’s too much to ask the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, to take responsibility for rules on measuring the infection rates.

I guess it’s too much to ask JCAHO to create a standard for hospitals and expect them to rise to it.

I guess it’s too much to ask Congress members to begin looking into this mess.

I guess it’s too much to ask hospitals to keep their patients safe — and alive.

I will ask you to read the article — and then to link to Dr. McCaughey’s website to learn how to protect yourself.  Clearly no one else cares — so you need to do it for yourself.

……………..  Read more about MRSA and steps to take yourself here…………

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1 Response to “MRSA Report Cites Irresponsibility Everywhere”


  1. 1 Dusty Pearsall July 23, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    I was very interested in your recent blog. The statistics that Dr. McCauhey cites regarding the changing of lab coats is appalling.

    I design and implement infection control programs for non healthcare environments. Unless my clients or their business have been directly affected by MRSA or another disease causing organism they see these situations as “happening to the other guy”.

    The June 25 APIC survey indicated that more than 70% of the MRSA infections found in hospitals were discovered with 48 hours of admission and in many cases were probably brought into the hospital from outside. This fact underscores strongly that the growing rate of community acquired infections need to be addressed much more strongly as well. Without the leadership and proper example setting by our medical “experts” as you so rightly call for in your blog, more infections will feed into the hospitals further exacerbating the problem.

    Widespread public education on the ongoing abuse and misuse of antibiotics, education of the general population to identify MRSA symptoms early, and the greater emphasis on good hygiene are all called for especially among doctors apparently.


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