Think back to the last time you or a loved one was a patient in a hospital or healthcare facility. What things do you remember most? Is it the stress about health and recovery? Maybe you remember the frustration of trying to get answers or understanding what was going on? Or perhaps you remember a constant worry about whether the hospital was clean enough to prevent an infection? If any or all of these are familiar, you are not alone. A recent study investigated what patients consider the most important aspects of a quality hospital, and as this post will reveal, how infection prevention is their top concern.
Two interesting studies examine the patient's perspective in hospital acquired infections. The patient experience happens to be an overlooked area in research, despite the valuable insights that these individuals can provide. In today's post, we'll look at what these two important studies reveal about the patient's personal experience and how to engage the patient more in HAI research.
Most babies are born healthy. Delivered in a hospital, a birthing center, a home, or even a stable, they are bundled up, fed, loved, and go on to grow up with few or no complications.
In those cases where a newborn arrives with a medical condition that requires treatment, however, these tiny patients face greater risks than any adult or even an older child. One of the greatest risks faced by newborn patients is getting an infection. In fact, hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units.
There is a good chance that you have Staph - Staphylococcus aureus - on your body right now. In fact, it is estimated that 25-30% of us carry Staph on our skin or in our nose all the time. But a quarter of us are not sick, suffering from the symptoms of a Staph infection. What's the deal? It comes down to colonization vs. infection.
When we enter a hospital room as a patient, we are seeing the room at its cleanest. The room has just been scrubbed down during what is called "terminal cleaning," the rigorous cleaning that takes place after one patient is moved in preparation for the next patient to move in. However rigorous this cleaning procedure (and studies indicate that up to 60% of hospital rooms are not cleaned properly), there will be residual contamination by infectious pathogens. In a dynamic process of contamination and recontamination, after cleaning and through cross-transmission, germs stick around and continue to make patients sicker.
Have you ever wondered how hospital scores are created? As we have explored in previous posts, there are a number of organizations and companies that publish hospital scores and ranks for the consumer, in an effort to help individuals make educated choices about their healthcare while also making medical facilities more transparent about their successes and challenges (to varying degrees of success). But where do these scores come from?
In the field of patient safety, you find an army of hospital administrators, consultants, manufacturers, healthcare workers, and evaluators. Out in front, pushing into new territory while leading the way, you will find a solitary figure, a mother, the standard-bearer. Her flag is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the fight against medical errors and hospital-acquired infections: Her daughter's story.
This week we continue our series on our New Year's resolution: Becoming a more empowered patient! This step provides some guidelines to help make the most of our information-gathering.
Step 2: Research!
One of the first things any of us do when we encounter illness is to Google it. A study showed that one in three (35%) American adults have used the Internet to "diagnose" a medical condition. Even our doctors warn us not to research "too much." It's not that they don't want us to be informed; it's just that the Internet is full of every kind of information, from baseless opinion to peer-reviewed data alongside an entire spectrum of possible diagnoses, prognosis, and symptoms. We have to be careful about our research and approach it more strategically..
Happy New Year! Among our list of new year's resolutions, this one is going on top: Becoming more empowered patients. In today's healthcare settings, the patient can and should play a critical role in healing, if she or he is informed, assertive, and supported.
At no other time in history has the patient had access to the amount of information about illness, had the legal and societal (and financial) rights to determine healthcare choices, and access to widespread availability of cutting edge technology and expert care. This January you will find the steps you can take to become more empowered, either as a patient yourself, or as a patient advocate.