Archive for the 'MRSA /Hospital Acquired Infections' Category

MRSA: Victimization and Shooting the Messenger

Yesterday’s post, where I told the stories of three (+2) victims of MRSA infections, raised ire, blame and excuses from commentators and emailers alike.

Never mind that they were stories of five people who are infected with MRSA, one of whom has basically been left to die. Never mind that the frustration levels of these patients while trying to get treatment are over the top. Never mind that these people are victims of dirty medicine — the kind where guidelines and controls exist, but are ignored in too many places. The negative comments were aimed at me — it’s easier, after all, to shoot the messenger.

This post has been moved.  Find it by linking to its new location. 

MRSA: Patients Ignored, Left to Die

(Find an update to this post: MRSA, Victimization and Shooting the Messenger)

In the past two days, I have heard three stories, all related to MRSA and other hospital acquired staph infections, and all relating to heinous — even (in my not-so-humble-opinion) criminal acts on the parts of healthcare providers or politicos.

One story came from a colleague who visited a woman in the hospital. The woman contracted an infection after surgery almost a year ago. She is still in the hospital, on life support, not because of the surgery, but because the infection has just consumed her.

This post has been moved. Link here to find it in its new location.

Maybe Surgery Should be Performed in a Restaurant?

Dr. Betsy McCaughey of RID (Reduce Infection Deaths) pointed out in last week’s Wall Street Journal that when it comes to inspections for bacteria and other infection sources, the restaurants in every state in the nation are held to a higher standard than hospitals or other healthcare physicians.

She points out that inadequate hygiene in hospitals causes 100,000 deaths per year, while the CDC estimates that only 2,500 people die from food-borne illnesses like those that may come from restaurants. And those restaurants are inspected diligently in most areas, and far more than hospitals or other facilities ever are.

And here’s a real question mark. According to her article, prior to 1970, hospitals routinely tested the surfaces in operating rooms, patient rooms, labs and other locations for pathogens. In 1970 these facilities were told to stop testing because it was unnecessary. And now, 37 years later, there has been a 32 times increase in the number of deaths from hospital acquired infections such as MRSA. So why hasn’t the CDC updated its policy?

Dr. McCaughey asks the question in regards to hospitals, doctors’ offices and other facilities, “Why aren’t hospitals and doctors’ offices held to the same standard and inspected regularly? Going to a restaurant is voluntary. Going to a hospital is not.”

As patients, we should be asking these questions, too. And insisting, as we are able, that when we do visit any type of healthcare facility that hands are well washed and sanitized, and that instruments, equipment and other surfaces in the facility have been cleaned and sanitized, too.

Last year, at least 100,000 people didn’t do that insisting. And this year, they no longer have that option.

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Learn more about MRSA and other hospital acquired infections at About.com.

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MRSA: Those With Power Aren’t Paying Attention

Two reminders during the past week about MRSA and the real problems facing those who are infected by it — and those who aren’t.

The first was an email from Genevieve who told me about her husband’s experience after knee replacement surgery. Two days after being removed to a rehab center, he began running a fever, and his incision starting turning red — obviously the sign of an infection.

He was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he had the surgery, and the resident on call proceeded to examine his knee — with no gloves on! Genevieve objected — loudly she says — “wait! what if it’s MRSA?”

The doctor turned to her and in a loud voice, exclaimed that MRSA wasn’t the problem everyone thinks it is, and she shouldn’t get so upset! Genevieve, however, insisted he wash his hands and put on gloves before touching her husband again. (you, go, Genevieve!) Fortunately, while there was in infection at the site of the surgery, it was not MRSA.

The second reminder came in the form of an editorial included in Health Leader’s Media by Molly Rowe called MRSA, MRSA Me. She tells about her difficulties this past summer in getting her “spider bites” diagnosed as the MRSA they were, and the ensuing disinterest on the part of her family care doctor when she was later scheduled for knee surgery and they didn’t care about double checking that her infection had, in fact, been healed. You can just imagine what might have happened had the MRSA spread to her surgical site.

Clearly, despite the media attention, despite the 100,000 deaths each year, despite the cost to hospitals of taking care of those who get sick from it — the very people who can make a difference don’t seem to be paying attention! It’s as if they take the concept of transparency (recognizing the problem so they can do something about it) to mean invisibility (if we ignore it, it will go away.)

It’s time those leaders in hospitals, and their staff, became “infected” with whatever impetus is needed to take note and take these infections seriously. Sadly, it will likely require some horrible tragedy — like the loss of a hospital’s CEO or the CEO’s loved one to MRSA — before the people in a position to make a difference will do so.

For now, we patients need to do just what Genevieve did. She proclaimed her dissatisfaction loudly to take care of the present danger. THEN, she got in touch with the hospital’s administration afterwards to complain. She is truly an empowered advocate.

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MRSA in the Community (Interview)

While my heart breaks for the family of the young high school boy who lost his life to a MRSA infection, I can’t help but think his death will have saved the lives of millions in the future.

MRSA has been around for so many years, and tens of thousands of people have been dying, but no one has been paying attention! Now, they are. Sadly, MRSA has moved from the hospital where people have been acquiring it, and dying from it, for years, to the community. It’s a different strain, but no less deadly.

When we were kids, we were taught to wash our hands so the germs wouldn’t make us sick.

Now we need to teach our kids to wash and sanitize so the germs won’t cause someone to die.

Do a news search on google or yahoo using “MRSA” and “community” and you’ll come up with more than 1,000 citations this morning.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed infectious disease expert Dr. Shelly Gilroy for my radio show. This morning I’ve uploaded that interview, plus my previously (newspaper) published information about MRSA for your review.

I’ve also added some links to further information, including the most recent updates from the Centers for Disease Control.

There is a long way to go before this superbug, or any of the others, can be eradicated. Until then, we just have to stay smart, keep our hands washed, teach our kids how to avoid infections at school, use precautions when we are in places with equipment that will house the germs….

Read up, and be smart. Please!

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MRSA, other Staph Infections: Nothing New Here!

It’s all over the news this morning, from CNN to NBC to CBS, ABC and Fox — a report of widespread MRSA and other staph infections. They are superbugs that can’t be eradicated by the antibiotics that exist because the very nature of them is that they have overcome those killing agents.

So instead they are killing people worldwide.

There is nothing new here!

Patient safety experts have been calling attention to these superbugs for years, and predicting exactly what is now being reported: that people are dying who otherwise would not have died had they not acquired this infection. In this case, it took the death of a high school boy to call attention. My heart goes out to his family, along with some appreciation to this young man who has now become the catalyst for making these infections come to the top of the news heap.

This is Hospital Infection Prevention Week. Learn everything you can about these infections to stay clear and keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Take the steps necessary, especially if you must be in the hospital, to keep yourself clean of these infections.

Now, go wash and sanitize your hands.

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Find an update to this post, and a podcast interview here.

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Hospital Safety, Dirty Doctors, and Accountability

My friend Helen Haskell forwarded two articles of big interest to those of us who wish hospitals were safer places to be sick or hurt.

Putting Staff in Charge of Safety

The first is the cover story from Hospitals and Health Network Magazine called “Can Your Nurses Stop a Surgeon?” It tells the tale of a surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center who, ready to operate on his patient, was told by the nurses and surgical technician that he was not allowed to move forward because he had not yet let them run through their pre-surgical safety check, called a “Time Out.”

The surgeon, furious, reached for the scalpel anyway — and found it had been removed from the instrument tray by the staff. Even more furious he stomped out of the OR and contacted the CEO of the hospital —

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