Everyone is so concerned about infections. It seems that just a small paper cut can develop into a major life-threatening medical condition. Just today I received a phone call from a dear friend that her husband had been admitted to the hospital and could not have visitors. He had a small cut on his leg and been doctoring it on his own.

When his wife saw that it had developed into a bad infection, and because of his unpredictable diabetic condition, his blood sugar was over 565, their doctor immediately admitted him to the hospital. He was on massive doses of antibiotics and was not coherent at all. She was afraid he would get a staph infection or that miserable MRSA.

Recent statistics I have read in the media, indicate that even the hospitals are not safe havens and that infections contracted in the hospital kill over 90,000 Americans a year! Many of these deaths are preventable and people want to know what is being done to protect patients. Hard-to-treat superbugs are an increasing problem since so many people are over-prescribed antibiotics-- this widespread use makes new germs drug-resistant.

Many of these new germs attack those with a weakened immune system or patients using catheters, IV lines, or ventilators, which many times is the elderly. The primary mode of transmission is person-to-person, by the hands of healthcare workers or by contaminated equipment.

All health facilities are to adopt best practices to stop the spread of germs by sanitizing rooms and equipment, washing hands thoroughly, and monitoring for dangerous organisms. As a dangerous problem, this issue has received the attention of consumer advocates, federal and state governments, insurers, and hospital and healthcare providers.

How do we beat the superbugs? Hospital-acquired infections cost an estimated $20 billion a year! Last year, Medicare stopped paying for complications arising from certain infections that were acquired while in the hospital that could have been prevented. Many other insurers are following Medicare's lead on denying payments for medical errors in hospitals.

Assisted by the CDC, those hospitals that adopted a rigorous protocol have virtually wiped out bloodstream infections. The government recommends 1,200 separate practices to prevent infection in hospitals, 500 of which are very strongly recommended. In some hospitals, doctors and nurses are required to follow a five step checklist: washing hands, wearing sterile gowns and gloves, protecting the patients with antiseptics, and using sterile drapes and dressings. Because this "to-do" list is ruthlessly simple, there is no excuse for not following these lifesavings measures.

I will be going into the hospital again at the end of November for back surgery. This time they will insert the rods and spacers to keep the discs secure. You can bet I will be asking what type of safety measures they take to prevent the superbugs from attacking me while I am there! It sure is true that to be educated is to be responsible.

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 Linda Reese

Linda is a contributing writer for the Retired & Loving it blog. Linda is retired, married, and enjoying her retirement in a retirement community in Florida. She shares her experiences with others who are facing retirement or already there with posts on living on a fixed income, budgeting, and healthcare issues. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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