t is no secret that many hospitals fail to properly sterilize their rooms and devices to prevent infections from spreading. What are the consequences of this?
Reports show that some children are still getting infections at hospitals.
CBS news reports on the new information regarding children getting sick at hospitals.
While the overall number of children getting sick at hospitals has decreased, the problem still exists according to new figures.
Researchers are thankful to see that some infection rates did go down. The rate of children acquiring bloodstream infections and pneumonia at hospitals fell by fifty percent in the last seven years.
Dr. Patrick from Vanderbilt, who took part in the study, told reporters,
“We're recognizing that there are things that happen at hospitals that are preventable and there are things we can do to make being in the hospital safer, including for our most vulnerable patients. These are preventable complications that can be deadly or have life-long consequences, and I think this is a nice success story of providers getting together and saying the status quo is not acceptable.”
How do these infections spread?
The study’s information shows that any device that must enter a person's body carries the risk of giving the body an infection. Ventilators can spark pneumonia and catheters are often attributable to urinary tract infections. Interior lines in these devices are long, flexible tubes that lead directly into a blood vessel and remain there during the period of a person's care. Despite the fact that central lines are necessary for delivering medications, fluids and nutrition, they can sometimes cause bloodstream infections.
These infections have been such a massive problem that there has been a major push by experts and federal health officials across the country to try to lower the number of these hospital acquired infections. This has included a particular focus on children via children’s hospital organizations.
How was the study conducted?
“Patrick's team analyzed the data on hospital-acquired infections among critically ill children at 173 neonatal intensive care units and 64 pediatric intensive care units throughout the United States. They focused specifically on rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections from 2007 through 2012. The researchers measured the number of infections per 1,000 days' use of that medical device among all patients in that intensive care unit,” according to CBS.
What were the results?
They showed that bloodstream infections among babies in hospitals had decreased.
Statistics were, “Bloodstream infections from central lines in neonatal intensive care units decreased from about 4.9 infections to about 1.5 infections out of every 1,000 days' use of a central line. In pediatric intensive care units, bloodstream infections from central lines also decreased, from 4.7 infections to 1 infection per 1,000 days. Urinary tract infections associated with catheters did not decline. But rates of pneumonia linked to ventilators did, from 1.6 cases to 0.6 cases per 1,000 days of ventilator use in neonatal intensive care units and 1.9 cases to 0.7 cases per 1,000 days in pediatric intensive care units, the study found.”
Who was at the highest risk of infection?
The smaller the child or baby, the greater the risk that they would face infection. CBS explains, “Newborns weighing less than 3.3 pounds at birth were more than twice as likely to develop a central line-associated bloodstream infection and more than three times more likely to develop ventilator-associated pneumonia, compared to newborns with birth weights above 5.5 pounds.”
The results were published on Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics.
Can parents do anything to lower their children’s risk of getting the infection? They can wash and sanitize their hands regularly and tell visitors to do so as well.
Dr. Perencevich, an infectious disease expert, told CBS,
“A cultural shift has played the biggest role in reducing infections, but said a second reason is having good research. One of the unique things about infection control is that we have data on how to cut infection risk. We've developed antimicrobial catheters and dressings, and we know if you insert the catheter properly and if you take care of the ventilator appropriately, you can reduce infections. Despite these decreases in infections, challenges remain; the biggest challenge is that not everything is preventable. We know pretty well how to prevent most infections, but with current technology, we can't get infections to zero because that would mean never putting in a central line or intubating a baby, and that's not acceptable. It's therefore important to continue investing in research related to preventing health-care associated infections. If we don't keep pushing forward, rates could increase or we won't continue to move forward. I wouldn't want these lower rates to be a reason to take our foot off the gas, so to speak.”
Experts are emphasizing the importance of parents being their child’s best advocate by ensuring that doctors take care of sterilizing everything used on their children.