When patients go to the hospital, they expect to get better, not worse. Yet, across the United States, healthcare-associated infection rates (HAI) are a significant concern for hospital administrators and should be a significant concern for patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at any given time, around one out of every 31 hospital patients has an HAI. But for these 10 Texas hospitals, the odds are even worse.
“It is troubling to learn that so many hospitals are making their patients sick,” said Charles Brown, a Houston medical malpractice lawyer.“But it is even more troubling that these injuries are so preventable.”
10 Texas Hospitals With Startling Infection Rates
In an effort to inform patients and encourage hospitals to improve, the CDC and Medicare monitor, track, and report on these infection rates. According to data gathered from Medicare, 10 Texas hospitals with high HAI rates – and the associated infections – include:
Christus Southeast Texas – St. Elizabeth (Beaumont)
Christus Southeast Texas – St. Elizabeth located in Beaumont fell below the national benchmark in several categories related to HAIs. All of the failed benchmarks related to catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) in intensive care units (ICU) and other wards of the hospital.
JPS Health Network (Ft. Worth)
JPS Health Network in Fort Worth fell below the national benchmark on several HAI-related measures. Primarily, JPS failed numerous measures related to surgical site infections (SSIs). The failed benchmarks included abdominal hysterectomy and colon surgery.
University Medical Center of El Paso (El Paso)
The University Medical Center of El Paso fell below national benchmarks on several infection-related measures. The most concerning infection rates were catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and central line-associated bloodstream infections. The facility fell below the benchmarks based on number of device days, observed cases, and predicted cases.
UT Southwestern University Hospital (Dallas)
UT Southwestern University Hospital in Dallas fell below national benchmarks on several measures related to surgical site infections (SSIs) following colon surgery.
North Texas Medical Center (Gainesville)
HAI-associated benchmarks that North Texas Medical Center in Gainesville scored below the national average relate to clostridium difficile (C.Diff). C.diff is a bacterial infection that causes severe intestinal conditions, including conditions like colitis. C.diff can also be very easily spread through hospitals when infection control measures fall below standards.
Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth (Ft. Worth)
Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth also had high infection rates of C.diff, and scored worse than the national benchmark. As noted before, C.diff is easily spread. The infection can be dangerous in people with compromised immune systems, as well as the elderly.
Paris Regional Medical Center (Paris)
Paris Regional Medical Center scored worse than the national average in benchmarks related to Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The facility scored poorly in the number of observed cases, patient days, and predicted cases.
Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas (Austin)
Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas in Austin scored worse than the national benchmark in terms of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). The poor benchmarks included measures related to predicted cases and observed cases.
Las Palmas Medical Center (El Paso)
Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso scored below the national benchmark on a number of measures related to C.diff. Benchmarks ranking poorly included predicted cases, observed cases, and patient days.
Medical Center Hospital (Odessa)
Medical Center Hospital in Odessa was scored poorly in terms of surgical site infections (SSIs) following colon surgeries. The facility ranked poorly on measures including predicted cases, observed cases, and number of procedures.
While it should be expected that hospitals control and prevent healthcare-associated infections, patients need to remain vigilant as well. As this data suggests, infection rates are something patients need to be concerned about.
What Can Patients Do to Help Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections?
First of all, one of the best ways that patients can protect themselves from any healthcare risk is to be their own best advocate. When medical care, treatment, hospitalization, or surgery are required, patients should be aware that risks do exist, and should educate themselves on how to prevent complications or side effects. The CDC recommends that patients “Be informed. Be empowered. Be prepared.” To do this, the CDC offers the following tips for patients:
- Speak Up: Talk to your doctor about any treatment or procedure you are having. Ask questions about the process, what instruments will be used, and also what you can do to reduce the risk of infection.
- Hygiene: Keeping your hands clean is an incredibly important part of reducing infection risk. Whether you are in the hospital, are caring for your own injuries, or are visiting your doctor outpatient – preventing the spread of germs is important.
- Be Antibiotic Smart: If your treatment or risk of infection requires antibiotics, ask the name of the antibiotic and if tests were done to make sure the correct antibiotic and dosage were prescribed.
- Recognizing Infection: As a patient, recognizing the signs and symptoms of infection can significantly reduce the risk of infection progression or complications. Some of the most common signs of infection include:
- Redness or pain at the incision, or IV site
- Drainage at the site, around stitches, or under bandages
- Be Aware of Common Infections: One of the common infections that impact hospital patients is c. diff. If you are taking antibiotics and begin to have episodes of diarrhea, you should contact your doctor immediately.
- Protect Yourself: Another simple way that you can protect yourself and reduce the risk of infection is by keeping your vaccinations up to date.
Understanding Infection Rates and a Patient’s Legal Rights
When patients seek medical care, they trust that healthcare facilities and providers are going to do everything possible to return them to health. Therefore, when a patient acquires an infection in the hospital, some natural questions exist. Could the infection have been prevented? Were the right policies and procedures followed? Who is going to pay for the medical expenses and other costs for a full recovery? Getting answers to these concerns can be a powerful step toward healing and moving forward.
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, or have concerns about hospital infection rates, you may find it helpful to contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation.