Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hospital Infection Prevention Efforts Too Often Thwarted

There have been a couple of really good items this week on how efforts to prevent hospital infections are being inadvertantly undermined here and abroad, even though they cause 10,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and add $20 billion to the country's health care bill.

Laura Landro over at WSJ's "Health Blog" cites a poll by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control in which 41% of nearly 2,000 professionals reported cuts in their budgets, including money for technology, staff, education, products and equipment. Of those, nearly 40% had layoffs or reduced hours, and a third experienced hiring freezes. Nurses who staff many of the departments say they are being asked to take on extra duties that distract them from infection control.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports on a British Medical Association report that says infection control practices there have been damaged by overcrowding and understaffing in NHS facilities. "...the BMA says polices promoting higher patient throughput "have led to many services constantly operating close to full capacity. This has led to overcrowding, understaffing, higher bed occupancy, and increased movement of patients between hospital wards. All of these factors have made it difficult to implement measures such as hand washing, and screening of at-risk patients."

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