According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), approximately 2.5 million hospital beds are currently being used in the United States. But if any of those hospital beds being used in California are in hospitals with high infection rates, the state is now paying closer attention to them.
After multiple complaints that the state isn’t doing enough to stop fatal hospital infections from breaking out, the California Department of Public Health pledged to prioritize inspections at facilities with high rates of infection.
The announcement from the state came at the beginning of March after Consumers Union, a national nonprofit group, filed a petition that listed numerous hospitals with unusually high infection rates. Many of these hospitals had not been properly inspected in almost five years.
The group called the state’s response to the petition “an important first step,” but specified that it still didn’t do enough to protect patients going to these hospitals to seek treatment.
Lisa McGiffert, who directs the group’s Safe Patient Project, is of the same mind. She believes that the state too often relies on hospitals’ voluntary efforts, which aren’t having the desired effect.
“It’s time for the state to use its enforcement power to require poor performing hospitals to take action and keep patients safe,” McGiffert told the Los Angeles Times.
Prior to filing the petition, Consumers Union discovered that 131 California hospitals had been left without inspection for almost five years. State law dictates that hospitals must be inspected every three years.
And what’s worse is that 80 of those hospitals have significantly higher rates of infection than other facilities in the state. Fortunately, there is new technology that could help these hospitals in the future when inspections have been sorted out.
New “germ-zapping” robots have arrived in California, and they’re already being put to work in Sacramento. Sutter Medical Center has just started using their first one.
The machine emits pulsing ultraviolet light when it’s wheeled into a hospital room in need of cleaning. The ultraviolet rays have been known to kill off bacteria that frequently cause infections, so hospital officials are looking at the machine as another way to help curb the infection rate in facilities across the nation.
It’s one of seemingly countless measures that hospitals are now taking to curb the rate of “hospital-acquired” infections. These breakouts not only have an impact on patient health, they have serious financial consequences as well. A 2013 study discovered that U.S. hospital-caused infections cost $9.8 billion annually.
If those numbers tell state officials anything, it’s that the prioritization of hospital inspections is sorely needed.