A nonprofit Consumer’s Union issued a report April 27, 2009, stating that over a one year period, almost 100,000 patients were subject to increased risks of infection following surgical procedures because of hospitals’ failure to follow proven prevention practices.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), surgical infections account for 20% of all hospital-acquired infections and 8,205 patients die from surgical infections annually.
The Consumer’s Union found that 445 hospitals across the country were in low compliance for administering antibiotics before surgery, a procedure "known for nearly 50 years" to be critical for the prevention of infection.
Nevada made the list of states with the highest percentage of low compliance for the practice of administering antibiotics within one hour before surgery to prevent infection and the practice of stopping antibiotics within 24 hours after surgery to prevent complications that contribute to antibiotic resistance. With regard to the practice of administering antibiotics pre-surgery, 30% of Nevada’s hospitals were in low compliance, and 57% of Nevada’s hospitals were in low compliance of the requirement to stop antibiotics within 24 hours after surgery.
It is difficult to place these numbers into context because not all states require hospitals to report infection rates. According to the Union’s report, twenty-five states now require hospitals to report these statistics but Nevada is not one of them. According to an article published on RGJ.com, Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown South Meadows Medical Center both made the list of low-complying hospitals. Gayle Hurd, who is the administrator for best practices at Renown Health reported that the health system has increased its compliance percentages by 30 points over the last six months.
According to the Union’s report, 40-60 percent of all surgical infections could be prevented by following simple infection prevention procedures.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.