A visit to the hospital is not always a prescription for getting well. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows on any given day, 1 in 25 patients is battling an infection. That adds up to more than 720,000 infections a year.
"We found one in nine people who get a hospital associated infection go on to die. This is a high rate and something we think is preventable," said Dr. Michael Bell of the CDC.
Pneumonia is at the top of the list, as well as infections related to surgery and infections that cause gastrointestinal illness. And antibiotics only fuel the germs.
"Those pathogens are driven and made worse by too much antibiotic use," Bell said.
The CDC says progress has been made. Infections related to some common surgeries have declined, as well as infections related to tubes placed in the chest or arm.
There are things you can do to lower your chances of picking up an infection at the hospital. Victoria Nahum's son died from a hospital-related infection. She now spearheads an effort to keep patients safe.
"Things like asking questions, insisting on proper hand hygiene every time anyone touches them, even their family members," Nahum said.
Also, ask when catheters and other tubes can be removed; they are often a freeway for germs to enter the bloodstream.
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