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Hospital caused infections declining

Kentucky residents heading to the hospital are safer now. Hospitals are doing better at protecting their patients from preventable infections. According to a new study, infections patients catch in hospitals cost the health care system about $9.8 billion per year now. That amount is down from the $20 to $40 billion it previously cost to treat such infections. However, one of the study's authors said hospitals can still do more to reduce the type of hospital errors that cause infections.

It is still a big problem. About 5 percent of the people who enter a hospital for treatment will contract an infection in the hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new study reviewed statistics from 26 previous studies. The researchers used those to tally the costs of treating the most common preventable infections acquired by patients in hospitals.

The costs for treating the five most common preventable hospital infections range from a high of $45,814 per case to a low of $896 per case. They include such things as infections from central lines, which are tubes used to insert medication into the larger veins, pneumonia caused by ventilators, infected surgical incision sites, hard to treat bacteria and urinary tract infections from catheters. Medical personnel could eliminate up to 70 percent of these infections by following a simple check-list of best practices when treating patients.

A hospital error can cause long-term damage or even death to a patient. A hospital malpractice lawyer could investigate an incidence of a hospital mistake and provide expert testimony and medical documentation to support an injured patient's claim. A lawyer could pursue a claim for compensation for the costs of caring for someone, or the economic losses caused by a loved one's death.

Source: Reuters, "Hospital infections cost U.S. $10 billion a year", Anne Harding, September 12, 2013

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