Hospital Acquired Infections
Hospital acquired infections can be controlled. Three types of hospital acquired infections that can cause devastating injury, yet are clearly preventable are the following:
1. Bloodstream infections contracted within 48 hours after having a central line placed are almost always due to the central line. Five criteria that are amazingly effective in reducing this phenomenon and are very inexpensive are requiring that caregivers wash their hands; cleaning the insertion site with the antiseptic chlorhexidine; using full body sterile drapes; choosing the catheter site carefully and in particular avoiding the femoral vein if possible; checking the line daily and removing unnecessary catheters.
2. Surgical site infections that occur at or near the incision site within 30 days of the procedure or within one year if an implant is left in place can be dramatically reduced through the timely administration of prophylactic antibiotics, avoiding hair removal at the surgical site unless absolutely necessary, and if the surgery is heart surgery then managing the glucose levels during the immediate post-operative care. As to the administration of antibiotics, typically these must be administered within one hour before the incision and should be documented in the chart.
3. Infections of the lungs that develop within 48 hours after a patient begins receiving mechanical ventilation through endotracheal or tracheostomy tubes can also be prevented through simple procedures such as maintaining the head of the bed in a semi-upright position for the patient assuming the medical condition otherwise allows such, and secondly weaning the patient off continuous sedation in order to better evaluate the patients ability to breathe independently and to hasten extubation. In addition the hospital staff need to observe good hand hygiene, provide the patient with antiseptic oral care, aspirate the patients airway continuously and insure that the respiratory equipment is disinfected, sterilized, and properly maintained.
In pursuing a claim under any such circumstances as these it is necessary to obtain the hospitals rules regarding the prevention of hospital acquired infections which are required by the Joint Commission and then further to determine what system that hospital used to support these criteria and how that is documented.
See also infections for a related article on this topic.