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If you have a hospital acquired infection, you may have new rights. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that there are over two million hospital acquired infections each year resulting in 90,000 deaths. There may be another million infections acquired in long-term care facilities.

New evidence has surfaced that almost all these infections are preventable if hospitals and long-term care facilities would follow proven protocols. Some of these rules are as simple as washing hands between patient visits.

New guidelines and rules are raising the standard of care that hospitals must follow to prevent these infections. Beginning October 1, 2008,Medicare stopped paying for preventable infections. In October,The Joint Commission, a non-profit organization that evaluates and accredits hospitals, released a compendium of strategies for preventing infections.

Hospitals can no longer argue there is nothing that can be done to prevent these infections. We know that hand-hygiene works. It is proven that using a back-up catheter treated with antibiotics to prevent central line blood stream infections works.

Several years ago we were actively involved in necrotizing fasciitis cases until doctors learned to recognize the symptoms and treat those cases appropriately. We worked with Jacqueline Roemmele and Donna Batdoorff in educating the public at that time with their wonderful book, Surviving the “Flesh-Eating Bacteria”. Donna and Jacqueline established theNational Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation and have done wonders to prevent that horrible disease from taking more lives.

We hope to also be active in educating the public about MRSA and what they can do to prevent that type of hospital acquired infection. The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, is a non-profit patient safety organization dedicated to the prevention of hospital infections and has a wealth of information about infections at their site. I recommend you visit their site.

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