It’s really one of those problems that we would thought would be gone by now, but hospital infections and diseases haven’t gone away. According to this Scientific American piece, the problem has gotten worse.
It is the ultimate paradox of American health care: going to the hospital can kill you. Every year nearly two million hospital-acquired infections claim roughly 100,000 lives and add $45 billion in costs; that is as many lives and dollars as taken by AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. And with antibiotic resistance rising steadily, those numbers promise to climb even higher.
Even more staggering than the numbers is that most of these infections are preventable. The Institute of Medicine has long since determined that if hospital staff would make some minor adjustments to their routines—like washing their hands more—the problem could be significantly minimized.
Increased use of antibiotics has created new breeds of superbugs that are antibiotic-resistant and hospitals have become dependent on antibiotics in lieu of proper hygiene.
This proposed law in New York wants physicians to forego neckties, but the law misses the forest for the trees. The issue is not to pick and choose which particular hygiene rules to follow, but rather for hospitals to have comprehensive policies to minimize infection in the first place.