Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I Came Here To Get Better

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has released it's first report on hospital acquired infections. These are infections that people get after being admitted for something else. The results are staggering.

Pennsylvania hospitals reported almost 12,000 cases of HAIs during 2004. These infections are particularly hard to treat because they are often resistant to antibiotics.

Some of the reasons that they are resistant to treatment are; overuse of antibiotics in the general populace, overuse in the meat industry for the treatment of animals and to promote weight gain as a feed additive, overuse in raising crops to prevent disease. These all lead to more resistant bacteria, that cause disease in humans at hospitals.

The fact that hospitals are a source of infection is not news. That there are so many infections is. In the almost 12,000 cases in Pennsylvania, almost 1,800 people died. That is a rate of approximately 6.5%. This is totally unacceptable. People go to a hospital to get better, not to die.

These infections led to 205,000 extra days in the hospital, and cost the patients and their insurance companies over 2 billion dollars more in charges.

Hospitals need to do more to prevent disease while people are being treated. The resistance problem isn't all on them though.

The meat and crop industries need to do their part. They are reluctant to do so because antibiotic use by them increases their profits.

Family doctors need to not subscribe medications that are ineffective for the disease being treated. Such as antibiotics for ear infections. Tell the mother no, instead of giving the child a scrip that is really to shut her up.

Patients need to do their part by taking the full regimen of antibiotics prescribed. Don't stop taking them because they feel better already, and don't flush them down the john. Waste treatment plants don't nullify the antibiotics. They flow straight to the water supply. Americas rivers are full of antibiotic medicines, environmental scientists have isolated it.

Hospitals also need to compensate patients for diseases that they pick up there. Charging patients 2 billion dollars a year, in one state, is bullshit. Why are people being charged for an illness that the hospital gave them? Why is the hospital not compensating for the 205,000 days lost from work. Why aren't they paying compensatory damages for the death of a loved one?

A lot needs to be changed in the treatment of people at and by hospitals. They should not be getting sick there, and they damn sure shouldn't be getting charged when they do. Compensation should be awarded without having to go through the courts.

This report by Pennsylvania exposes some flaws in their system as well. They state that those flaws will be addressed. Very few states require reporting of this type, and Pennsylvania is the first to publicize the results.

I say, well done Pennsylvania. The public needs this information.

To the hospitals; get your act together. We may just be starting, but America is watching.

All states need to put this information out to the general public.

Insurance companies, well they need to start back-charging. I know that as a mechanic I can't charge for damage that I caused. If I'm working on a car and scrape the paint, that's on me. Any inconvenience to the customer, such as a rental vehicle, are also on me.

It's time that America held hospitals to the same, or higher, standards that it holds it's mechanic, plumber, carpenter, and window cleaner.


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