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Arizona patients may be at risk of infection

Each year, 75,000 people die from infections that they receive while in the hospital, which is more than deaths from gunshot wounds or traffic accidents. On average, 1 out of every 25 patients will get an infection while in the hospital. The Center for Disease Control keeps track of six different types of infections, and hospitals in 13 states, including Arizona, were said to have a higher than average occurrence of at least one of these infection types.

A study in 2011 said that while the frequency of many infections has decreased, the incidence of infection could be further reduced by following proper protocol. According to one of the study's authors, hospital staff don't always do what they need to when caring for patients with infectious diseases. Starting in 2012, the government started publishing infection rates in the six monitored categories on its Medicare Compare website.

In 2014, the government also started to consider infection rates when determining how much to reimburse hospitals. The six types of infections that the CDC monitors include infections from hysterectomies and colon surgeries as well as infections from antibiotic resistant germs. While data from the CDC is considered reliable, some hospitals are disputing the information. For example, some say that infections could be the result of using antibiotics that kill other infections while allowing stronger bacteria to thrive.

Patients who believe that they suffered from an infection while at a hospital may take legal action against that hospital. With the help of an attorney, it may be possible to win compensation for medical bills and long-term care costs. It may also be possible to win punitive damages due to hospital negligence if due care was not taken to protect the patient from infection.

Source: North Country Public Radio, "Hospitals Struggle To Beat Back Serious Infections", Jordan Rau, October 21, 2014

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