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A GLOBAL CRISIS AFFECTING BOTH PATIENTS and HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: THE RISK OF HEALTH-CARE ASSOCIATED INFECTIONS

Posted May 22 2010 9:15pm

Individual physicians and the medical staff at hospitals help save lives every day. In any community, in every state, people of every age who are sick (from newborns to the elderly) rely on hospitals to be places where they will be cared for, their illnesses treated and their pain relieved.

Fortunately, that IS exactly what happens ... for those who are lucky.

But, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at any point in time, 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infections acquired in hospitals ... and the risk of acquiring health-associated infections in developing countries is 2-20 times higher than in developed countries.” As its initials imply, HAI refers to any acquired infection developed in a hospital or health care facility.

These are staggering statistics which affect staggering numbers of people! Therefore, when I was recently contacted by Barbara Dunn at www.haiwatchnews.com asking if I would help inform my readers about how they could learn more about HAI (Health Associated Infections), I agreed without a moment's hesitation. I felt compelled to do so, especially after logging onto NOT ON MY WATCH at www.haiwatch.com, which educates both patients and health care professionals about ways to eliminate preventable illnesses and their often tragic consequences. I urge you to do the same, for among the many things you will learn is that: “Afflicting thousands of patients every year, HAI often leads to lengthening hospitalization, increasing the likelihood of readmission, and adding sizably to the cost of health care per patient.” Then, too, you will learn that the most common problem with the highest morbidity and mortality of all Healthcare Associated Infections is Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP), Surgical Site Infections (SSIs), and Cross Contamination (Contact Transfer) to name but a few.

Lest you think that I am simply attempting to champion a cause which, in any case, deserves attention, I will tell you that Barbara Dunn’s finding my blog on the web and asking me to help spread the word is more meaningful than she could have ever guessed, for she would have no way of knowing that I was a victim of one such hospital induced infection. The surgery for which I entered the hospital some years ago went very well. I healed from it in record time. But, I was one of the unlucky patients affected and infected by Clostridium Difficile, more commonly referred to today as the C-Diff bacterial infection. It took my body an entire year to recover from its debilitating symptoms and their intrusion upon my daily life. Since I have first-hand knowledge about this very real problem, I wish to spare anyone from suffering unnecessarily!

The good news according to HAI-Watch is that “growing public anxiety regarding the issue and resulting in legislation on state and local levels demanding accountability, is serving to accelerate initiatives to combat HAI’s."

However, the only way to protect patients from such risks is also to educate the medical community. That is precisely what NOT ON MY WATCH is attempting to do, and the way in which they’re doing it seems to make a lot of sense. They provide facilities with a toolkit that contains information, flyers, patient safety tips and posters.

The NOT ON MY WATCH campaign provides information and understands all too well that "busy doctors and nurses on the front lines of delivering care can find it difficult to find the time to take advantage of scheduled programs within their hospitals.” That is why – in their commitment to quality care and infection prevention - nationwide doctors and hospitals are partnering with Kimberly-Clark to provide educational programs to staff and management. Accredited (CE) programs based on best practices and guidelines as well as research on reducing the incidence of healthcare-associated infections are provided and up-dated as often as possible.

The HAI education bus seen above is a mobile classroom that brings accredited CE Education right to your door. They encourage everyone – as I do – to look for this tour bus, “as it makes its way across the country, delivering education about healthcare-associated infections and other critical healthcare issues from the Plains of Texas to the California coast to New York City and places in between." Also, remember that just by logging onto www.haiwatch.com you will be able to follow information regarding how to keep yourself best informed about any/all health associated infections.

Educated consumers – especially where health is concerned – can only lead to a healthier nation. Become a part of those who continue to press for more research and who spread the word about the need for PREVENTION.

Support those who advocate for us, do the research and provide the education necessary to help us all!

Yours,
Linda
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