Access to clean water, soap, and basic cleaning products may seem like a given in our nation, leading many of us to overlook the impact poverty can have on hygiene. In the United States alone, the statistics are staggering: 33% of low-income households report bathing without soap when they can't afford it, 32% report reusing diapers, and 74% skip doing laundry or dishes to save on supplies. It can seem that hygiene products are not as great a priority as nutrition, shelter, or clothing, but hygiene has a direct impact on health, especially for those struggling with a chronic condition or patients receiving "hospital at home" care. In this blog post, we will explore this concept of "hygiene poverty," its consequences, and the urgent need for collective action.
About a quarter of American hospitals are for-profit, that is, they are operated to generate profit for owners and stakeholders. A subsection of those hospitals, about 3%, have been acquired through private equity (PE) buyouts, whereby a PE firm raises funds to purchase a hospital. These PE transactions, also called "takeovers," are characteristically funded through leveraged debt - the firm takes out a loan secured by the purchased entity (the hospital), adding the burden of that debt to the balance sheet (and monthly expenses) of that facility. As a result, hospitals acquired by PE firms face additional pressures; they are operated not only to generate profit but also must repay large amounts of debt, used to fund the acquisition and now added to their balance sheet. A recent study looked into this subsection of hospitals to see how this added financial pressure impacted patient outcomes. The results? Patients are 25% more likely to be harmed by medical care at a private-equity acquired facility.
In our series on Clostridioides difficile, we explored the bacteria that causes this lethal hospital-acquired infection, the resulting infectious disease, and the outlook for treatment and prevention. This Thanksgiving week we are providing a shorter read and offering this one-page infographic that presents the highlights of this series on one shareable page. The cycle of infection as well as the lifecycle of the microorganisms are presented in relation to each other, with the added element of where either of those cycles can be broken, preventing an outbreak.
C. diff, or Clostridioides difficile, is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic, endosporic, toxigenic, opportunistic, bacillus. Its scientific description makes it sound like a pretty standard bacteria. But this bacteria "causes almost half a million infections in the United States each year" according to the CDC. November is C. diff Awareness Month so stick with us all month to learn more about this microorganism and the unique attributes that make it so lethal. Today’s post will explore the basic definition of Clostridioides difficile. First, let’s unpack that long list of terms mentioned above.
Every successful organization, from a small grassroots group to a global corporation, has a way for ideas to percolate through the system and find their way to the top decision-makers. Human ingenuity can come from anywhere, including cost-saving ideas (the matchbox), ways to attract new demographics (Flamin' Hot Cheetos), retain current customers (Starbucks), and of course, launch completely new products (PlayStation). From our last post, we know that hospitals and healthcare systems allocate their budgets in advance, with limited protocols for integrating innovations. How can the individual with an idea get that innovation in front of the right people at the right time, and of course, in the right way? In today's post, we'll explore one method to get you there.
To recognize MRSA Awareness Month through October, here are 5 critical facts about MRSA that everyone needs to know.
With a few words, a family's life is forever changed: "It's cancer." For any patient, these words bring anxiety and fear. When that patient is a child, however, no words can express the emotions that send shock waves through a family, friends, and community. Today's post begins a three-part story of one such young patient, a little boy named Jack. (Best of all, Jack's story has a happy ending.) During Childhood Cancer Awareness Month join us as we see the challenges of pediatric cancer treatment and infection control through the eyes of a boy and his mother.
Every year a new class of students start their medical training with a white coat ceremony. The white coat is so synonymous with "Doctor," it seems they have been the medical uniform for centuries. In fact, the coat that carries with it so much prestige (and, it turns out, bacteria) has only been around for about 100 years. Is it time to let the white coat go?
Alongside its work in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an ongoing international presence, providing support and expertise across a variety of healthcare activities. By working with partners in typically low- and middle-income countries, the International Infection Control Program (IICP) focuses efforts on reducing healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, and infectious disease outbreaks. In today's post, we will learn about this global program that helps keep all global citizens safe.
Eradicating pathogens from environmental surfaces in hospitals is a daily fight. Keeping bacteria from reproducing on surfaces, finding reservoirs in hard-to-clean areas, and forming biofilms requires daily disinfection, and ideally, some form of continuous mitigation. In today's post, we will look at the threats posed by bacteria that are even more adept at surviving on surfaces: Spore-forming bacteria, and how hospitals are trying to keep these persistent pathogens from threatening their patients.