Warning: Hospitals may be hazardous to your health

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How hazardous?

A study published in Monday’s edition of Archives of Internal Medicine estimates that 48,000 people died in 2006 after developing sepsis or pneumonia during their hospital stays. Altogether, such infections forced patients to spend an extra 2.3 million days in the hospital and cost $8.1 billion to treat, the study found.

The true toll may be even higher, according to the study:


“These figures are likely to be underestimates because they focus on infections that were acquired and diagnosed during the same hospitalization, although many [hospital acquired infections], including most surgical site infections, are not diagnosed until after hospital discharge.”

If that’s not scary enough, study co-author Anup Malani from the University of Chicago Law School had this to say in a news release: “In some cases, relatively healthy people check into the hospital for routine surgery. They develop sepsis because of a lapse in infection control – and they can die.”

He added that the nation’s hospitals need to find a better way to reduce the risk of infections. Let’s hope the nation’s hospitals are listening.

-- Karen Kaplan