Infections Acquired in Health Care Facilities
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Hospital-acquired or nosocomial infections (defined as those not present or incubating at the time of admission to the hospital) and other health care–associated infections affect an estimated 1.7 million pts, cost $28–33 billion, and contribute to 99,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals each year. Although efforts to lower infection risks have been challenged by the growing numbers of immunocompromised pts, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, fungal and viral superinfections, and invasive procedures and devices, the “zero-tolerance” viewpoint of consumer advocates holds that nearly all health care–associated infections should be avoidable. Accordingly, federal legislation now exists to prevent U.S. hospitals from upgrading Medicare charges to pay hospital costs resulting from at least 14 specific nosocomial events.