Consumer Reports analyzes hospital infection data

Only 6 percent received top scores


ORLANDO, Fla. – Kellie Pearson had heart surgery in April. Although the surgery went well, during recovery she developed a serious bacterial infection, called C. diff.

"It was incredibly painful." Pearson said. "The second day I told my husband,‘I think I'm going to die.'"

Infections like Kellie's can spread from patient to patient within the hospital.

Some of the most threatening infections are caused by C. diff and MRSA bacteria that can live on surfaces for days and pass from hand to hand. And MRSA is resistant to some antibiotics.

"We analyzed hospital-acquired infection data for thousands of hospitals across the United States, and we rated hospitals based on how well they did at avoiding MRSA and C. diff infections," Says Doris Peter, of the Health Ratings Center at Consumer Reports. She continues.  "the results are sobering."

Only six percent received top scores for preventing both infections, with some well-known hospitals having low ratings.

To prevent these infections, hospitals and hospital staff must pay close attention to cleanliness.

 Also essential is to avoid the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which can wipe out patients' good bacteria and let bad bacteria like C. diff run wild.

We know that most infections are preventable," says Peter. "And if hospitals committed to deploying evidence- based practices that reduce infections, then tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year."

Some hospitals are able to keep their infection rates low. The best prevent infections by designating special staff to oversee the use of antibiotics and by following clear protocols on cleanliness.

If you've been in the hospital, Consumer Reports says you should assume you've been exposed to potentially dangerous bacteria. To keep safe, watch for warning signs that include fever, diarrhea, worsening pain or an incision site that becomes warm, red and swollen. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.