Whether through personal experience or the news, chances are you’ve heard a story about someone dying from a hospital-acquired infection. From the West Coast to the East Coast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 75,000 people die each year in the United States from an infection acquired during their stay at a hospital.
Take for example a case out of California where, in 2014, a 72-year-old woman died after acquiring an infection after surgery for a stomach ulcer. According to several reports, including a recent article published in Sci-Tech Today, the hospital-acquired infection was not listed on her death certificate – an oversight that could help save potentially thousands of patients down the road from suffering the same fate.
In order to identify problems, such as the spread of superbugs in hospitals, health organizations like the CDC need doctors and hospitals to properly report how patients die. When doctors and hospitals fail to properly report a patient’s death, particularly those caused by medical negligence or surgical errors, it becomes unclear how big a problem is and impedes efforts that could improve the situation for others.
Though legislation forcing hospitals to report hospital-acquired infections is missing in many states across the nation, the same is not true here in New York. Passed in 2005, Public Health Law 2819 provides annual reports that summarize the number of hospital-acquired infections in the state. Not only does this report show which hospitals have reported issues with superbugs or other infectious bacteria, it can also aid grieving family members who may want to file a wrongful death claim against a hospital found on the report.