Whilst hospitals in the USA are thoroughly and regularly cleaned, preventing hospital-acquired infections is nearly impossible. Previously, this was a problem dealt with on an individual basis, but the last two decades have seen the federal government class hospital-borne viruses as a public health issue. This has meant a huge increase in funding and regulations, but there is still more work to be done. The Clinical Research Society is committed to drug research, but improvements in hospital hygiene can prevent hundreds of thousands of needlessly acquired infections.
Risks of Hospital-Borne Viruses
The latest research on the scale of hospital-acquired infections makes for scary reading. Just under 99,000 people are fatally killed every year in America by infections and viruses that they picked up whilst at a hospital.
In total, for every 100 patients admitted to hospital, 4 will pick up a hospital-acquired infection. That amounts to over 720,000 infections occurring each year. Whilst most of these infections are treatable and curable, that is still an unacceptable amount of preventable suffering taking place in American hospitals.
The most commonly acquired disease in US hospitals is pneumonia, at approximately 157,000 a year. Gastrointestinal illness and urinary tract infections come in as the second and third most common hospital-acquired infections, affecting 123,000 and 93,000 respectively. These are serious and often fatal diseases, which require the correct medication immediately.
What Can Be Done?
The 24 hour nature of hospitals makes them a special problem in terms of hygiene and cleanliness. Performing routine cleaning jobs is easy, but thorough sanitization of a hospital is a far more complicated task. This includes sanitizing and cleaning everything from roofs, walls and windows to carpets, toilets and showers. By doing the hospital room by room, section by section, it is possible to give each ward the time and attention it needs to be completely cleaned and free from unwanted germs. It is important to recognize when hospitals have been damaged by fires and floods, and to repair this damage as soon as possible.
Treating hospital-acquired infections costs an estimated $9.8bn a year. Without even going into the death count, this alone should provide enough reason for more thorough care when it comes to hygiene of our hospitals.