08 May 2012

12 scary hospital stats

A hospital stay is clearly not something that should be taken lightly.

Hospital visits at some time during your life are unavoidable. You simply wouldn't want to languish at home nursing a kidney stone or an inflamed appendix. In short, when you need a hospital, you probably need it badly.

But there are very good reasons why a hospital stay shouldn't be taken lightly: the following statistics make for some scary reading. But then, if you ran your life based on fear, you'd never get into a car or fly in a plane.

Check out some of these stats made known by the World Health Organization:


  • Millions of people die each year from medical errors and infections linked to health care, and going into hospital is far riskier than flying
  • If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any country, your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300.
  • This compared with a risk of dying in an air crash of about 1 in 10 million passengers, according to Dr Donaldson, formerly England's chief medical officer.
  • More than 50% of acquired infections can be prevented if health care workers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based handrub before treating patients.
  • Of every 100 hospitalised patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection, according to the United Nations agency.
  • The longer patients stay in an ICU (intensive care unit), the more at risk they become of acquiring an infection.
  •  Medical devices such as urinary catheters and ventilators are associated with high infection rates.
  • Each year in the United States, 1.7 million infections are acquired in hospital, leading to 100,000 deaths, a far higher rate than in Europe, where 4.5 million infections caused 37,000 deaths, according to the WHO.
  • Risk is even higher in developing countries, with about 15% of patients acquiring infections, said Dr Benedetta Allegranzi of the WHO's "Clean Care is Safer Care" programme.
  • The risk is really higher in high-risk areas of the hospitals, in particular ICUs or neonatal units in developing countries.
  • About 100,000 hospitals worldwide now use the WHO's surgical safety checklist, which the agency said has been shown to reduce surgery complications by 33% and deaths by 50%.
  • If the checklist is effectively used worldwide, an estimated 500,000 deaths could be prevented each year, it says.

 (Reuters Health, Stephanie Nebehay, Health24, Susan Erasmus, July 2011) 


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