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Tracking the spread of infections in hospitals

Researchers are looking at a new method of finding out how infections are spread inside hospitals. If the spread of these dangerous pathogens can be traced, it may be possible to eliminate one of the primary dangers at many medical facilities. A team from the University of California San Francisco is using electronic health records (EHRs) see how infections go from one patient to the next.

The data

The study involves data collected over three years and involves roughly 85,000 patients. It looks at how a particular bacterium, referred to as C diff, is spread inside medical facilities. C diff is the number one cause of hospital-acquired infections. In total, the records tracked patients through 435,000 changes in location, from getting scans to undergoing surgery to resting in their rooms.

The machinery of infection

Among the early results of the analysis was the discovery that a particular machine led to an increase in infection risk. The machine, a CT scanner, was located in the emergency area of the hospital. Its location or the way it was being used could be the cause of the increased infections. The hospital responded to the report by making sure that the CT scanner in question was cleaned to the same standards as other scanners throughout the facility.

While it is unpleasant to think about, the truth is that infection is often spread through a lack of cleanliness. Medical equipment must be cleaned in the correct manner and in the correct time. Health care professionals must follow protocols regarding hand washing and other methods of stopping the spread of infection. When hospitals or providers cut corners, the results are increased infection rates and patients who suffer needlessly.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of hospital staff, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: University of California San Francisco, “UCSF Innovators Use EHRs to Track Hospital=Acquired Infection," by Laura Kurtzman, 23 October 2017

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