It’s that dirty little secret that hospitals don’t want you to know about… but it looks like we’re almost at the tipping point. Soon you may be able to find out what your local hospital’s infection rate is — and you can choose whether you want procedures to take place in that hospital or not.
MRSA (pronounced “mer-sa”) is just one of the superbugs — a germ that has figured out how to be stronger than any of the drugs developed to kill it. It can wreak havoc (2 million cases in America each year) — and KILL the people who acquire it (100,000 deaths of Americans each year), especially surgical patients and the elderly who are at greatest risk. To give you a sense: three of my friends have been admitted to one hospital here in Central New York state since the first of the year. All three have acquired MRSA. One died. The other two will battle the infection for the rest of their lives.
Joyce Howard Price wrote more about it in last week’s Washington Times. So far, 16 states have enacted laws requiring hospital disclosure. Twelve more are considering that legislation. When passed, hospitals must make their infection rates public so patients can choose whether they want that to be a factor in their smart patient decision-making.
Why is this important? If infection rates go public, then hospitals will be more diligent about stopping its spread. From washing their hands more often, to sterilizing equipment — just cleaning rooms! — there are usually infection-stopping policies in place, but they are often ignored. Lazy, too busy, not paying attention — sorry — but no excuse is good enough. The one thing that will make hospitals be more invested in cleaning up their acts is if they know it will negatively affect their bottom lines — and that won’t happen until patients see what an abhorance their infection rates are.
If you have an opportunity, contact your local legislators and tell them you would like to see legislation that would protect you and your loved ones by making hospital infection rates public. This kind of public service could one day save your life, or the life of someone you love.
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