There's a silent killer in hospitals, and it's actually worse than we thought

One in every 25 people who comes through the hospital door ends up acquiring an infection that makes them sicker than before.

Seems counterintuitive, right?

And, according to a new report from the CDC, about one in seven of these infections is caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or the phenomenon that occurs as bacteria treated with powerful drugs grow increasingly resistant. That one-in-seven statistic increases to one in four when looking at longer term hospital stays, according to the report.

Hospital acquired infections, or HAIs, are infections that happen when people who are in the hospital for another reason become sick from bacteria or fungus that entered their bodies through catheters or surgical sites.

These infections can lead to sepsis, a condition in which an infection leads to a huge response by the immune system that causes inflammation and, if left untreated, can progress to septic shock and damage organs. Sepsis can be deadly. It’s responsible for 1 million hospitalizations in the US a year and accounts for at least a third of all in-hospital deaths.

There are some relatively simple steps healthcare providers can take to prevent infections, including monitoring how long catheters stay in patients’ bodies and keeping devices and surfaces that patients touch clean. But, as the CDC acknowledged in a call on Thursday with media, there is a need for new diagnostic tools for doctors to more quickly assess the type of bacterial infection patients have, as well as investment in rolling out prevention programs — like this 5-year-plan, which the agency released in August of last year — that could cut down on the number of these infections.

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