Hospitals Can Be Deadly?

image Many of us think of hospitals as a safe haven from diseases. It’s a place where people “get better.” But would it surprise you to know that some of the nastiest, most difficult bacteria to conquer are found in hospitals, almost exclusively!!! According to recent studies, almost 2,000,000 infections per year are transmitted to patients in US hospitals, 90,000 of patients are killed as result.

16-year old Raymond Wagner III was an unfortunate victim of these nasty infections. After hurting himself in a sledding accident, he was rushed to the hospital to repair his bones. Doctors and nurses informed Raymond that all went well, although Raymond developed a fever that would not go away. After days of pain and a worsening fever, Raymond was rushed to the hospital only to discover that he had contracted osteomyelitis – a rare bacterial infection of the bone found exclusively in hospitals. The worst part of these infections is that they are resistant to antibiotics because they are hospital bred.

Months and many surgeries later, Raymond transferred to another hospital and was cured.

Dr. Tim Wilkin of Weill-Cornell Medical College agrees. "They can be quite different," he says. "They can be resistant to antibiotics, which makes them more difficult to treat. What it means is that they have to use stronger, more expensive, antibiotics to treat the infection, and can often require antibiotics for a longer period of time."

Ruth Burns was admitted for an “in-and-out” surgery to relieve a pinched nerve in her back. Unfortunately, soon after the surgery, Burns developed pneumonia and was put on a ventilator. Five days later, she was discharged, and only hours later was rushed by her daughter to the hospital, disoriented and in alarming pain.

Just seventeen days after the surgery, the 67-year-old nurse, Ruth Burns, was dead.

Burns had developed meningitis a result of Acinetobacter baumannii, a bug that preys on the weak in hospitals. This bacteria is a multi-drug-resistant strain. The dangerous superbug better known, as MRSA, caused a stir at Infectious Diseases Society of America when they warned that drug-resistant strains of Acinetobacter baumannii and two other microbes — Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae — could soon produce a toll to rival MRSA’s.

The three bugs are especially hard to fight because they are wrapped in a double membrane and harbor enzymes that chew up many antibiotics. As dangerous as MRSA is, some antibiotics can still treat it, and more are in development, experts say.

But the drugs once used to treat gram-negative bacteria are becoming ineffective, and finding effective new ones is especially challenging.

"We’re literally running out of drugs to treat gram-negatives," said Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious disease specialist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "And there is nothing in the pipeline right now."

So next time you go in for a procedure at the hospital, be afraid, be very afraid!

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