Why are hospital patients still dying from infection?

How many patients die every year from catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBIs)? Would you believe 30,000? As shocking as this number is (to me, at least), even more remarkable is the fact that these deaths are largely preventable by following five basic steps: “(1) Wash hands with soap; (2) clean patient's skin with an effective antiseptic; (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient; (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown and gloves; (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site.”

So why aren't hospitals following these guidelines? The results of a survey of infection control nurses places the blame squarely on the shoulders of senior hospital leadership. “(M)any hospital chief executives aren't even aware of their institution's bloodstream infection rates, let alone how easily they could bring them down.”

Continuing our theme of simple solutions, “When hospital leaders decide to create a culture in which preventing infections is a priority…nurses feel empowered to remind physicians to follow the checklist when inserting catheters.”

Hopefully, we are getting close to a time when hospital staff are not discouraged from reminding physicians to stop killing patients.

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