Some adverse medical events cannot be prevented. However, many of the challenges that patients struggle with after hospitalization may be prevented. For example, the rate of hospital-acquired illness will never reduce to zero, simply because many hospitalized patients have compromised immune systems and hospitals will never become germ-free. However, the spread of hospital-acquired illness too often results from poor hygiene practices and other negligent behaviors engaged in by healthcare professionals.

Reducing these negligent behaviors is more critical now than it has arguably ever been before. Not only do healthcare professionals have a better understanding of how to keep patients safe than they ever have in the past, but germs themselves are rebelling against the industry's best efforts to keep them at bay. The birth of the superbug should make reducing the spread of hospital-acquired infection a number one priority for professionals nationwide.

These superbugs are resistant to antibiotics and other classes of drugs used to treat severe infections. Because they are resistant to treatment, it can be nearly impossible to cure patients who are exposed to them. Given that the rate of hospital-acquired illness is estimated to be one in every 20 patients, the further spread of superbugs could ultimately be devastating.

It is thus critical that hygiene and sterilization procedures are given the critical attention that is their due. Because failure to properly protect patients from infections period may lead to even greater devastation at the will of superbugs. If you are at all concerned about your hospital's infection prevention procedures, speak with your physician. Failure to advocate for yourself could lead to serious complications down the road.

Source: USA Today, "Hospitals see surge of superbug-fighting products," April 29, 2013