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Infections spread through shared rooms and lack of precaution

This article looks at two recent studies focused on how infections spread so rapidly at some hospitals.

Two recently released studies have highlighted the risks patients face from infections at hospitals across the country. One study found that when patients share a room with another patient they are significantly more likely to acquire a central line infection than a patient in a private room is. A separate study found that hospital staff frequently fail to take important safety precautions that could help reduce the spread of infection. Both studies are important given that up to 10,000 patients die each year due to central line infections.

Sharing a room increases infection-risk

The first, and larger, of the two studies was performed by the University of North Texas Health Science Center. As Consumer Affairs reports, after analyzing the discharge records of a million patients across hundreds of Texas hospitals, the researchers found that patients who were placed in double-occupancy rooms had a much higher chance of acquiring a central line infection. Central line infections are spread by germs through venous catheters and they cause between 5,000 and 10,000 deaths every year.

Patients in double-occupancy rooms had 64 percent more central line infections than those in private rooms. Even when controlling for specific risk factors, the study still found that the risk of a central line infection was 21 percent higher for patients in double-occupancy rooms. The study also noted that patients at hospitals with primarily double-occupancy rooms were twice as likely to die of an infection than patients at hospitals that consisted mainly of private rooms.

Safety precautions not being followed

As Becker's Hospital Review reports, another study also shone light on why these infections may be spreading in the first place. In that study, hospital staff were either directly or indirectly observed at 325 separate patient rooms across three healthcare facilities. Over the course of the 325 observations, the researchers recorded 283 failures by staff that were violations of safety precautions designed to prevent infection transmission.

The most common type of failure was deviation from safe operating procedures or practices, such as entering rooms without the required protective equipment. Slips, such as cleaning areas with infected gloves and gowns, were also common. Such safety violations increase the risk of self-contamination and help facilitate the spread of infections, which for vulnerable patients can be lethal.

Medical malpractice law

Patients should receive the absolute highest standard of care at any hospital. That is why it can be so devastating to learn that one's illness or injury may have been the result of a hospital staff's negligence or recklessness. Anybody who may have been hurt by a possible hospital error should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help advocate for the interests of their clients during what may be a complicated and confusing claims process.

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