Even before the events of the last few years, hospital-acquired infections and other injuries were a definite concern.
Hospitals are a place that most people associate with getting better, not worse. And, for the most part, that association holds true: Doctors, nurses, and hospital techs provide essential and life-saving support for people who require their help.
Because hospitals are places where sick people gather, the rate of infections at hospitals tends to be (much) higher than in other locales. For years, hospitals have been making changes aimed at patient health and safety — such as providing better personal protective equipment and establishing disinfection procedures for common surfaces.
For a long time, it seemed that these changes were working. Rates of hospital-acquired infections started to slow.
Then came 2020, and with it, COVID-19. According to a 2022 report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, patient safety metrics are on the decline.
Did the Pandemic Weaken Hospital Patient Safety? Let’s Look at the Facts
When patients stay at hospitals, they risk many different types of infections. These include:
- Surgical site infections
- Primary bloodstream infections
- Urinary tract infections
…and more. Many patients also suffer from hospital-associated gastrointestinal illnesses.
This is a problem, and it’s one that hospitals have taken steps to overcome. In the five years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals nationwide reduced central-line associated infections by just over 30%.
By Q2 of 2020, it seems that hospitals had reversed their progress. Central line infections were back up by almost 30%.
Central lines are just one possible route of infection. When researchers looked at the infections associated with ventilators and catheters, they saw similar increases.
Increased infection rates weren’t the only worrisome finding. According to the same study, patient falls associated with significant injury grew by 17%, and occurrences of pressure ulcers increased by over 40%.
Why Did Hospitals Become Less Safe During the Pandemic?
Many reasons fuel the increase in injury and infection in hospitals across America. A non-exhaustive list may include:
- Increased patient populations
- Fewer healthcare workers
- More exhausted healthcare workers
- Skipped routine safety practices
- Shortages of personal protective equipment
- Healthcare workers exposed to infection themselves
When healthcare workers are ill, stressed, or rushed, it becomes much more difficult (or even impossible) for them to care for patients effectively or safely. During the pandemic, the need for healthcare workers was so high that it was equally impossible for hospitals to prioritize safety for their staff or their patients.
The authors of the New England Journal of Medicine paper suggested that this was an indication that the entire American healthcare system is not sufficiently resilient.
It’s hard to argue with that assessment.
However, if you’re dealing with a hospital-acquired illness or injury, you might not be concerned (at least at the moment) with systemic change. You need to know how you’ll handle your specific road to recovery.
What Happens if You or Your Loved One Gets a Hospital-Acquired Infection or Injury? Chicago’s Cullotta Bravo Law Group Can Help
Whether you’re watching your loved one go through a stressful procedure and recovery in an Illinois hospital or you’re the one in the hospital bed, you want to have unwavering confidence in hospital patient safety.
As the data doesn’t exactly support that confidence, it’s vital that you have a plan in place for hospital-acquired infections. If you contract something during your hospital stay, who’s responsible for that medical bill? How can you pursue the compensation you need to cover those charges?
While you’re recovering or helping support a loved one, you shouldn’t have to consider these stressful questions. That’s where we come in. If you’re suffering a personal injury, the experts at Cullotta Bravo Law Group will step in to determine what your best strategy is. We can help you fight for the support you and your loved ones need to heal past this traumatic event.
Interested in learning more about how we can support you? Give us a call today at 630-898-7800, or contact us online.