Sick people go to hospitals to get healthy. However, mistakes made by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals can result serious or life-threatening infections. Even more concerning, the antibiotics that are normally used to treat infections are actually a part of the problem, potentially making what started as a mild infection worse.
The widespread and inappropriate use of antibiotics by many hospitals results in certain types of harmful bacteria that have become resistant to the antibiotics that used to be used to treat them. These bacteria are called “superbugs” or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A significant number of people develop infections while they are patients in hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year over 648,000 people in the United States develop infections while they are in the hospital. Of these people who have developed an infection while in the hospital, 75,000 die every year.
Hospitals can be “hot spots” for infections, potentially amplifying their spread. Patients who have serious infections are near sick and vulnerable patients. They are all cared for by the same health care workers who are sometimes using shared equipment.
Two of the most common hospital acquired infections are MRSA and C. diff infections. MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is an infection that often develops due to bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. Every year, MRSA infects over 60,000 people and kills over 8,000.
C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a form of bacteria that will often cause severe diarrhea or life-threatening inflammation of the colon. This infection can result from the improper use of antibiotics. Every year C. diff infections impact more than 290,000 people and lead to more than 27,000 deaths.
It is important for patients to talk to doctors or nurses about the drugs they are being prescribed. Patients should find out as much information as possible about the drugs and their medical condition before agreeing to take the drugs. Additionally, it is important for patients to find out exactly what drug they are being prescribed, why they are being prescribed the drug, how long they should be taking the drug, and any severe long-term side effects associated with the drug.
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