Sizing Up Surgery
According to the national Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million people a year contract
infections during a hospital stay, and nearly 90,000 die as the result. Urinary
tract infections, surgical wound infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream
infections annually are the most common hospital-acquired infections. Of those,
pneumonia and bloodstream infections cause the most deaths (about 34,000 and
25,000 respectively; infections from surgical wounds cause about 11,000 deaths,
and urinary tract infections 9,000). Those numbers would be far greater, CDC
says, without infection-control programs that have been required for hospital
accreditation since 1976. In fact, according to a recent CDC survey of 265
hospitals nationwide, without these programs, there would have been 50 to 70
percent more infections and deaths.
Hand washing is the single most important
procedure for preventing hospital-acquired infections, according to CDC.
Patients and their families should ask their health-care workers to follow good
hand washing practices, and bring it to their attention when they do not. In
addition, health-care professionals need to follow CDC guidelines and
recommendations on the use of intravenous lines and other medical devices, and
the proper use and administration of antibiotics.
Patients should alert their physicians or
nurses who are providing them care, or hospital administrators, if they have
concerns about their health-care workers' practices. All states have licensing
and oversight bodies in their state health departments that respond to concerns
and complaints brought by patients.
Patients should always provide their doctors
with a complete health history, including:
other medications (some drugs may increase the risk for
recent exposure to people or animals who might have
travel to areas with high rates of infectious
If you become more ill after arriving home
from a hospital stay and develop unexpected symptoms such as pain, chills,
fever, discharge, or increased inflammation of a surgical wound, you should
alert your doctor.
What's New in the Operating Room?
The following is a list of some of the latest advances available in surgical