As Professor Latto discussed in class, the death toll in the United States due to Nosocomial Infections is appalling. As was also demonstrated in lecture, the U.S. doesn’t look good when compared to other European countries who not only have much lower infant mortality, but also much lower rates of Nosocomial Infections while spending much less in the process. Certain Asian and Latin American countries actually have lower rates of Nosocomial Infections as well, which seems ironic because the U.S. and its physicians pioneered many areas of the medical field in the 20th century, not to mention originally stressed the importance of cleanliness in hospitals.
The U.S. Nosocomial Infection situation is especially bad considering that the three main infections acquired are MRSA (methicillin resistant S. aureus), vancomycin-resistant enterococci,, and gram negative enteric bacilli. So, not only are patients becoming infected during their stay at the hospital, but they are actually acquiring infections that cannot be treated effectively without second line antibiotics which are expensive and a painful. Even if you endure the strain on your wallet and body, MRSA currently has a 20-40% mortality rate regardless of treatment. To add to this “perfect storm,” most patients that come into the hospital are seriously ill and tend to be very young or very old. Thus, their immune systems are already compromised by their illness and age. These patients serve as the perfect breeding ground for bacteria as well as for development of antibiotic resistant strains. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a clear answer to these problems facing our Health Care and Hospital System. However, I think that some changes must come about because at the rate we are going we will lose our precious weapon against bacteria: antibiotics as well as go completely broke in the process. Not to be too despondent, but it’s important to realize the consequences of our decisions. If you would like to view the Nosocomial Infection rates country by country or read the article that links the Nosocomial Infections and antibiotics, here are the links respectively: