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The prevalence of drug-resistant, hospital-acquired infections should still be a cause for concern among doctors and patients, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s press release on the study’s findings discloses that over the past 30 years, “staph” infections, acquired in hospitals and other healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, have become increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment.

The increase is startling: from 2% resistance in 1972 to over 60% resistance in 2004. In addition to staph infections which attack the bloodstream, pulmonary system or occur at the site of surgery, blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis C can also be passed on to patients hospitalized for unrelated problems–these infections also pose a significant risk to health-care workers themselves, whose occupations involve exposure to and contact with infected human blood. The CDC has already provided guidelines for protecting patients from numerous hospital-acquired infections, including pneumonia (caused by exposure to unclean air) and urinary-tract infections (caused by catheters).

Recommendations include guidelines for designing effective ventilation-systems in hospitals, proper use of antibiotics to avoid the promotion of drug resistance (many sources blame over-use or improper use of antibiotics for the prevalence and resilience of these pathogens), as well as stringent enforcement of hand-washing and glove-wearing protocol amongst healthcare providers.

Going to the hospital or any other healthcare facility should improve the health of patients, not expose them to worse problems than they had when they went in for treatment in the first place. Moreover, in settings in which nursing staff are already thinly-spread and over-worked, providers themselves should be safe from occupational exposure to serious diseases.

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