NEW YORK, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, April 16th the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing on whether the federal government is doing enough to prevent hospital infections. The answer is no. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consistently understate the size of the problem, and their lax guidelines give hospitals an excuse to do too little," says Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., Chairman of the national Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. (http://www.hospitalinfection.org)
How many hospital infections? "The CDC claims that 1.7 million people contract infections in U.S. hospitals each year. The truth is many times that number. The proof is in the data," explains McCaughey. 2.4% of all patients have MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) hospital infections. That means 880,000 victims a year from one superbug! Furthermore, MRSA infections account for only 8% of hospital infections. "Imagine the numbers from bacteria of all kinds," says McCaughey.
These new facts discredit the CDC's official number. "It's an irresponsible guesstimate based on a sliver of data from 2002. You can't responsibly deal with a health threat based on six-year-old data," McCaughey contends.
The CDC is failing to set high standards for cleaning and screening - the two methods required to stop the rapid spread of germs from patient to patient.
CDC fails to set cleanliness standards. Hospitals used to routinely test equipment and surfaces for bacterial contamination. The CDC (and the American Hospital Association) advised them to stop, saying it wasn't necessary. The infection toll proves that advice was wrong.
Numerous studies link hospital acquired infections to unclean surfaces and equipment. Testing surfaces is so simple and inexpensive that it's used routinely in the food processing industry. "How can it be more important to test for bacteria in a hot dog factory than in an operating room?" asks McCaughey.
CDC fails to call on all hospitals to screen for MRSA. Screening is necessary because patients who unknowingly carry the germ on their body shed it in particles on every surface. With screening, hospitals can identify the MRSA positive patients, and take steps to prevent the germ from spreading. Congress and seven state legislatures are considering making screening mandatory. Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania acted in 2007. Why is legislation needed? Because the CDC has failed to recommend that all hospitals screen.
"It is common for government regulators to become soft on the industry they are supposed to regulate. A coziness develops. CDC administrators should spend less time with hospital executives and more time listening to grieving families," says McCaughey.
SOURCE Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths