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Hospital infection rates drop, but may not tell the full story

Nobody wants to spend time in the hospital. Between the inconvenience of health issues and the cost of medical care, people typically look forward to being discharged and recovering. However, attentive medical care can help make the hospital stay more pleasant and successful.

Even when major medical procedures go well, there's still a chance for issues to arise down the road. Although infections aren't entirely uncommon, they may be preventable. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics indicating that hospital infection rates are on a downward trend.

According to data from 2011, the most recent year’s worth of information available to researchers, there were about 722,000 hospital infections nationwide. Based on this estimate, one in every 25 patients contracted an infection during his or her stay. This is down significantly from earlier data, which showed infections developing in one of every 20 hospital patients. Of those who had infections, slightly more than 11 percent died.

A spokesperson from the CDC said procedural improvements at hospitals likely contributed to this significant drop in infection rates. However, emerging trends in health care might also account for the improving hospital infection rate. Specifically, the CDC notes that 60 percent of surgical procedures are performed in outpatient facilities and admitting long-term patients to nursing homes is increasingly common.

As the health care industry changes, outpatient surgical centers and nursing homes must provide high-quality care. Oftentimes, patients simply don't have an option to choose where they are treated. This, however, doesn't mean that individuals deserve to be subjected to a lower standard of care.

Source: New York Times, "Infections at Hospitals Are Falling, C.D.C. Says," Sabrina Tavernise, March 26, 2014

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