Why are 48,000 Hospital-Stays per Year in the US Ending in Death?

hospitalIn the United States, two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a recent study.

This is the largest nationally representative study of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.

Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.

Researchers analyzed 69 million discharge records from hospitals in 40 states and identified two conditions caused by health care-associated infections: sepsis, a potentially lethal systemic response to infection and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management with you is because it can help keep you OUT of the hospital.

A hospital is the last place you want to be, as it’s in these health care settings that superbugs like MRSA run rampant. It is becoming increasingly common for healthy people to enter a hospital for a “routine” surgery, only to come down with a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) and become seriously ill... or even die.

In the largest nationally representative study to date, it was found that 48,000 people died due to sepsis or pneumonia caused by hospital-acquired infections. The saddest part is, virtually every one of these infections could likely have been prevented with better infection control in hospitals.

So, unless you have an emergency, I recommend avoiding hospitals as much as possible. They are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to an antibiotic-resistant bug.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

The 48,000 death toll reported by researchers only represents deaths from two conditions caused by HAIs, which means it’s only a smattering of the total carnage these HAIs truly cause.

In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year, and 100,000 people die as a result.

Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals account for over ONE-THIRD of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.

It would not be so bad if we actually received major benefits for this investment, but, as this article illustrates, this frequently is not the case.

Why are Hospitals Breeding Grounds for Germs?

Recent studies have shown that hospital-acquired infections are not a normal side-effect of caring for the seriously ill, but are generally caused by poor medical care! This includes not only contaminated medical devices but also spreading germs from patient-to-patient.

Doctors and nurses not washing their hands prior to touching a patient is the most common violation in hospitals. According to findings by The Times, in the worst cases, as few as 40 percent of staff members comply with hand-washing standards, with doctors being the worst offenders.

But even the best hospitals typically boast no better than 90 percent compliance -- which means one out of 10 practitioners may have contaminated hands.

Doctors’ ties and even their white coats have also been implicated as potential causes of infection.

At the University of Maryland, the Wall Street Journal reported that 65% of medical workers said they change their lab coats less than once a week -- despite acknowledging they were contaminated. Worse still, 15% said they change their coat less than once a month, even though superbugs like staph can survive on them for nearly 60 days!

Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs on the Rise

HAIs are frequently caused by antibiotic-resistant microbes, making the infections increasingly difficult to treat.

In Washington hospitals, for instance, patients infected with the antibiotic-resistant germ called MRSA have skyrocketed from about 140 a year to more than 4,700.

Unlike typical staph bacteria, MRSA is much more dangerous because it has become resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it, such as methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.

This “super bug” is constantly adapting, meaning it is capable of outsmarting even new antibiotics that come on the market.

Because MRSA can be so difficult to treat, it can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to a life-threatening infection in your bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, lungs, or surgical wounds.

There are other antibiotic-resistant bugs on the rise, too, including gram-negative bacteria, which can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract and bloodstream. According to one New York Times report, this category of bacteria are already killing tens of thousands of hospital patients each year.

What’s Spurring the Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs?

In order to effectively combat this epidemic problem, it’s important to realize that antibiotic-resistant disease is a man-made problem, caused by overuse of antibiotics both in health care and, even more so, in agriculture. It is not merely a lack of hygiene or proper disinfection techniques that have brought these super bugs to the point of being impervious to nearly all medications we have at our disposal.

About 70 percent of antibiotic use in the United States is for agricultural purposes. Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics are transferred to you via meat and even manure used for fertilizer.

So, the agriculture industry’s practice of using antibiotics, along with the overuse of antibiotics for medicine, is indeed a driving force behind the development of antibiotic resistance in a now wide variety of bacteria that cause human disease.

How to Minimize Your Risk of a Hospital-Acquired Infection

Going into the hospital should always be viewed as the option of last resort, when you have exhausted all others. Not only do you risk developing a life-threatening infection, but hospitals all-too-frequently are giving you the wrong solution for your problem.

Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America.

More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may actually be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).

I do want to make it clear however, that I am very grateful for the amazing dedication and commitment that created the U.S. national trauma system network. The dedicated physicians in the ER are probably the most appropriate application of the conventional medical model. They have saved and benefited countless lives through the application of their principles.

However ER medicine is best for acute accidents and nearly always an unmitigated disaster when it is applied for chronic degenerative illnesses. Likewise, there are countless unnecessary surgeries performed in hospitals every year for problems that could have been addressed with less invasive, natural methods and health principles.

Far too many negative health and lifestyle choices are made because of a lack of knowledge, and it's my intention to increase your awareness of the health tragedies facing the U.S., and empower you with the tools needed to become a force for good health so you can stay out of the hospital as much as possible.

Fortunately, there are a number of basic strategies you can use to avoid getting sucked into the current disease-care paradigm. Following these guidelines will be a powerful way to improve your health so that you can stay OUT of the hospital, and live a longer, more vibrant life.

  1. Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress
  1. Get optimal exposure to sunlight or a safe tanning bed, or take oral vitamin D this is not possible
  1. Drink plenty of clean pure water and avoid all sodas and fruit juices
  1. Limit your exposure to toxins
  1. Consume healthy fat
  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
  1. Eat plenty of raw food
  1. Optimize your fasting insulin and leptin levels
  1. Exercise regularly
  1. Get plenty of good sleep