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The British are beginning to do that. British medical care falls far short of American care by almost every measure, but hospitals there now are rushing to make infection control a top priority. Why? Because a MRSA epidemic has evoked such fear and outrage that the public is demanding action. Newspapers run frontpage stories about patients who went into the hospital for routine surgery, contracted MRSA, and died or suffered terribly. Under political pressure, Prime Minister Tony Blair issued an edict that the British National Health Service must reduce infection.
Britain’s Broomfield Hospital was one of the first to act. It reduced overall infections by two-thirds and eliminated MRSA entirely from its orthopedic wing by improving hand washing, barring nurses from wearing jewelry, prohibiting visitors from sitting on patients’ beds, ensuring that doctors changed white coats frequently, testing all patients for infection before they were admitted, and isolating patients carrying infection.p> Fighting Infection Saves Money br> Can American hospitals afford to take these precautions? We can’t afford not to. An infection after surgery more than doubles the cost of a patient’s care. Hospital infections add an estimated $20 billion to $28 billion a year extra to the nation’s health spending, enough to fund two-thirds of the cost of the new Medicare drug benefit. /p>
Who pays? We all do. Patients pay. Employers who foot the bill for workers’ health care pay. Insurers pay. Taxpayers who fund Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health programs pay.
Infection prevention saves money. Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh spent $114,320 extra treating 12 patients because they became infected with MRSA. Then the hospital instituted rigorous infection-prevention procedures similar to those in Holland and Denmark. The result: no new MRSA infections in the next five months. The cost of prevention during that period: $9,984. Numerous similar studies prove infection prevention is cost effective, but hospital administrators still claim they can’t afford it.
They also insist on secrecy, arguing that publicizing comparisons of hospitals’ infection rates would be unfair to hospitals treating AIDS, cancer, and organ transplant patients who succumb to infection quickly. Fair enough, but reports can be risk-adjusted to reflect these differences. What is unfair is keeping the public uninformed. Pat Moore said about her son’s death, “If I had known the hospital had a serious infection problem, Brad would never have been taken there. We would have chosen another hospital with a better record.”
If you need an operation, wouldn’t you want to know which hospital in your area had the lowest infection rate? Good luck getting that information.p> Secrecy Allows the Danger to Continue br> Twenty-one states require hospitals to report infections that lead to serious injury or death, but most of these states have acceded to the hospitals’ demands to keep infection reports secret. The federal CDC collects infection data from several hundred hospitals around the nation, but also promises hospitals not to disclose their infection rates. That’s an outrage.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?