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Hundreds of Hospitals With Violations, Deaths Get ‘Gold Seal of Approval’

The “Gold Seal of Approval,” awarded to hospitals supposedly for high quality of care, is being questioned after an investigation by The Washington Post. As reported by ArsTechnica, the Joint Commission, which accredits the hospitals, rarely yanks a hospital’s ranking, even when life-threatening events occur. “At least 30 accredited hospital’s violations were so bad … they caused or were likely to cause serious injury or death in patients,” ArsTechnica said. All told, 350 hospitals in 2014 had violations, with a third continuing to have violations through 2016.

I don’t like being right in instances like this, but I’ve said it many times: Statistics show that a hospital stay is 10 times more likely to kill you than a motor vehicle crash. Preventable medical errors kill around 440,000 patients each year — that’s more than 10 times the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes. One of the worst calamities is that patients often are sickened or die because of infections they get while they are in there.

According to 2014 statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 25 patients end up with a hospital-acquired infection. In 2011 alone, 75,000 people died as a result. And Medicare patients may be at even greater risk: According to the 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study, 1 in 9 Medicare patients developed a hospital-acquired infection.

Hospitals have been ordered to literally clean up their act when it comes to infection control, but it’s ultimately up to you to look out for yourself. The best infection control begins with hand washing — and simply rinsing your hands with water, or giving a quick scrub with soap, is not enough to remove germs.

First, antibacterial soap is completely unnecessary and could easily do more harm than good. As a matter of fact, the antibacterial compounds found in most of these soaps are another contributing factor to the rapid emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So, use regular soap, clean all the nooks and crannies of your hands, including under fingernails, for at least 20 seconds, and rinse thoroughly under running water.
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