Hospital practice patterns -- such as how often doctors and nurses wash their hands and how long surgeries last -- may contribute as much to rates of hospital-acquired infections as intrinsic patient characteristics, such as age and severity of illness, according to three studies published in a special supplement of the American Journal of Medical Quality. Taken together, the studies counter the belief that hospital-acquired infections are unavoidable, said David Nash, the journals editor in chief and chairman of the department of health policy at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. One study found that a hospital lost an average of $26,839 on each hospitalization involving a central-line-associated bloodstream infection. A second study found that rates of surgical-wound infections were not only shaped by patient susceptibility, but also by such factors as duration of surgery and operating room traffic. According to the third study, severity of illness at the time of admission didnt explain differences in mortality, length of stay and hospital costs between patients who acquired infections while hospitalized and those who did not. At deadline, abstracts of the studies werent available online. -- by Matthew DoBias
Many infections avoidable: researchers
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