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New technology seeks to prevent hospital infections

Hospitals are an environment prone to the spread of germs, viruses and infections. To combat these problems, hospitals require their employees to be hygienic which includes washing their hands. Yet, some experts think hospital employees wash their hands only 50 percent of the time. The number is staggering, but may be true as the CDC estimates that, each year, one out of every 20 patients receives a hospital-acquired infection. According to Consumer Reports, 99,000 fatal infections occur each year. It is a disconcerting problem that many companies and hospitals are now trying to address.

Several hospitals are testing devices that read the cleanliness of employees' hands, reminding them to wash up when necessary. Some of the hospitals where the new equipment is being tested have reported hygienic rates of up to 99 percent. Miami Children's Hospital, where one of these detection badges has been implemented, has seen a 66 percent drop in hospital infections. If this new technology can be placed and successfully monitored in all hospitals, infection rates may drop drastically across the country.

While this is certainly great news, the fact remains that only a select few hospitals have implemented these new technologies. Other institutions still face high infection rates that can leave patients in a dire condition. The infection may lead to permanent disability or death. When these instances occur at the hands of a preventable hospital mistake, the victim may face a lifetime of pain or, in the case of death, the surviving family may be emotionally scarred.

When a patient is injured by preventable hospital negligence, the victim or her surviving family can choose to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In the case of an infection, the victim must prove that medical professionals were responsible for the infection due to their negligence. This may include a failure by employees to wash their hands. In addition to helping victims obtain the compensation they need and deserve, these lawsuits will push hospitals and push them to obtain the technology necessary to prevent these terrible mishaps.

Source: CBS News, "Forget to wash? Devices track hand washing adherence in hospitals," Jun. 28, 2013

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