Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Sizing Up Surgery

Hospital Infections

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 infection)
  • infections
  • recent exposure to people or animals who might have infectious diseases
  • travel to areas with high rates of infectious diseases.

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 patient care:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
Remember your finger
Are You Getting More Forgetful?
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.