Last year, an estimated 14,000 patients in hospitals in the United States died from an infection called Clostridium difficle, or C-diff for short. Unfortunately, according to USA Today, these 14,000 patients were not alone. As many as 100,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals every year as a direct result of deadly infections, many of which are caused by "superbugs."
Our Costa Mesa injury attorneys know that hospitals make billions of dollars as a result of patients developing these dangerous or deadly infections. Unfortunately, this means that hospitals may have a financial incentive not to step up their efforts to try to prevent hospital infections from occurring.
Superbugs Are a Major Risk to Hospital Patients
The risks of developing an infection in a hospital have been well-established for a very long time. Efforts have been made over the years to make sure that surgical instruments are sanitary and that hospital rooms are sterile, all in an effort to fight infection.
Unfortunately, infections don't just spread during surgery. A patient could be exposed to germs anywhere in a hospital, from a contaminated television remote control to the bed rails on the patient's bed. Unless a hospital environment is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to eliminate germs, patients are always going to develop hospital infections.
USA Today indicates that hospitals are making an effort to deal with their dirty little secret, embracing new technologies such as germ-resistant copper bedrails and UV machines that are designed to identify and destroy bacteria and viruses. Yet, making an effort to fight infections costs money while a patient who comes down with an infection can be profitable for a hospital.
Infections Mean Big Dollars in the Healthcare Industry
Hospital Infection.org indicates that hospitals are currently making substantial sums of money as a result of infected patients. When a patient develops an infection, the hospital will make an estimated $15,275 on average to provide treatment for that infection. Since Hospital Infection.org estimates that as many as two million patients a year get sick because of germs in hospitals, hospitals could be making as much as $30.5 billion annually off of their infected patients.
The amount of money that hospitals make may be increasing as well, since infections are becoming more dangerous and difficult to treat. For example, a new "nightmare" bacteria has now been identified in as many as 200 hospitals in the United States. This new bacteria joins a long line of super bugs that are resistant to antibiotics and that are very persistant in making people sick. C-diff is one of these superbugs, as is methicillin-resistant staph infections, or MRSA as it is more commonly known.
With these superbugs finding their way into many hospitals, more patients may find themselves getting sick and hospitals may end up making even more money in treating those infected. It is important that hospitals be given financial incentives not to allow infections but instead to fight very hard to do everything possible to prevent them. This means that medical malpractice claims need to be brought by patients who get sick due to hospital negligence in order to ensure that a hospital doesn't profit from providing sub-standard care.