For V.A. Hospitals (And Patients), A Major Health Victory

Tina Rosenberg | The New York Times | January 30, 2015

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the United States is making modest progress in bringing down rates of hospital-acquired infections.

Progress is good, but modest is not. Hospital-acquired infection is one of the country’s leading causes of death, killing 75,000 people per year — more than car accidents and breast cancer combined. As antibiotic resistance increases, we are already seeing infections no drugs can cure. And these infections are preventable. Still, one in 25 patients who goes into the hospital without an infection will get one there.

Yet hospitals have only started to take prevention seriously in the last decade, most in the last five years. The bulk of the effort, and the progress, has come with infections associated with devices, especially central vein catheters. But device-related infections make up only a quarter of hospital-acquired infections. Hospitals have had far less success with other types of infections...