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HAI deaths and Airplanes - a conundrum

On March 26, 2014, the media department of the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) released this news, “Despite Progress, Ongoing Effort Needed to Combat Infections Impacting Hospital Patients” (go here: to read the news release).

Here is a quote from the news release, “Although there has been some progress, today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay, ” (emphasis added) said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The most advanced medical care won’t work if clinicians don’t prevent infections through basic things such as regular hand hygiene. Health care workers want the best for their patients; following standard infection control practices every time will help ensure their patients’ safety.”

I hear a collective yawn by hospital leadership after reading those words. I can hear them discussing the CDC report in closed meetings, “After all, we do want the best for our patients. With over 18 million Americans being hospitalized annually, we try our best to make sure they all have a positive experience. But, we’re not perfect. No hospital is perfect. HAIs happen!”

On March 8, 2014, an airplane flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport disappeared with 239 souls aboard. At this point, the wreckage has still not been found and the fate of those aboard is uncertain.

CDC Director, Dr. Frieden stated that “today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay.” What if an airplane with more than 200 Americans aboard crashed in the U.S. every day? How many days would go by before Americans would be demanding that something be done NOW to fix the problem? And, what if those angry Americans found out that the airline industry had the knowledge to prevent the deaths of 200 Americans daily, and they did not fully implement those changes they knew would save lives?

Courtesy of Darryl Hicks – Infection Prevention specialist and activist


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