Hospitals are places of healing, and sanitization practices are more extensive than ever. So why are the rates of healthcare acquired infections continuing to rise? It's a question that many continue to struggle with, as more and more research is being conducted to try to find answers and better methods of infection control.
One interesting study was done by Drs. David Gaieski and Brendan Carr, both associate professors of emergency medicine at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Of their results, they said:
“…While our understanding of the causes of infection-related death rates has improved, we are still struggling to prevent these diseases and identify individuals who are most susceptible,” said Gaieski.
The doctors examined the data on hospital acquired infections using geography, and identified what they termed 'hotspots' where the risk of acquiring an infection was, statistically, quite high. Sepsis was a primary focus, but wasn't the only illness they tracked; they also examined rates of measles, whooping cough, pneumonia and salmonella, among others. In this particular study the researchers honed in on sepsis since it has such high rates of mortality; of the roughly 750,000 individuals in the US who contract it 300,000 die. Hospital acquired infections, taken together, result in over 1 million fatalities each year. It is estimated that the cost of these infections is over 17 billion dollars per year.
Infection hotspots were found in the US Midwest and mid-Atlantic. Interestingly, their research also revealed 'coolspots', which boasted significantly lower rates of infection. Coolspots were located in the Southwest and Mountain states, which the authors muse will prompt further research to determine the source of their success in keeping infections at bay.
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