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Infection rates at U.S. hospitals are cause for concern

Annually, an estimated 75,000 patients die and hundreds of thousands more suffer serious injury and harm due to hospital-acquired infections. So-called super bugs like Clostridium difficile and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureu are often spread throughout hospitals and healthcare facilities. These types of bacterium are especially dangerous as, increasingly, they are becoming resistant to antibiotics and therefore extremely difficult to treat.

Problems associated with hospital infection rates have grown to epidemic levels with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that one out of every 25 patients will develop an infection. It's imperative that hospitals and other nursing and healthcare facilities take steps to prevent both the development and spread of potentially deadly infections.

While one may assume that these super bugs can only be eradicated using the latest technologies, the infection-control czar of New York's Mount Sinai Health System, Dr. Knoll, believes otherwise. Earlier this year, he instituted a policy requiring that bleach be used to clean the facilities he oversees.

While the time-favored cleaning agent has been proven as highly effective in killing antibiotic-resistant bacterium like C.diff, there are drawbacks to its use. In addition to its strong odor, bleach is also corrosive and can be damaging to equipment. The super cleaner also leaves a filmy residue behind which can make it appear as though a room wasn't properly cleaned. For these reasons, only 22 percent of hospitals throughout the state use bleach for routine room cleanings.

In addition to the use of bleach and other bacteria-killing agents, to prevent the spread of infection, hospitals must also closely monitor their use of antibiotics. Due to the development and overuse of "powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics," bacteria is becoming resistant, leaving health care professionals with few resources to treat ranging infections.

New York City residents who have had a loved one or been personally impacted by a hospital-borne infection may choose to consult with an attorney.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Benefits of Bleach: A Hospital Adopts a Grandmother’s Preferred Germ Killer," Lucette Lagnado, Nov. 2, 2015

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