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Attorney Warns of High Hospital Infection Rates

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(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS St. Louis (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSStL.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSStL.com/Health

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Four months into the new year, the Missouri Department of Health has failed to release any information requested by KMOX on hospital infection rates and a local attorney specializing in the problem says such infections are more common than the hospitals want you to think.

“The [Centers for Disease Control] says one in 20 hospital admissions involve a hospital or health care-associated infection. Which mean, basically, you got it in the hospital,” St. Louis attorney Mary Coffey said.

Coffey says people who die of hospital-acquired infections can be found on the obituary page under the euphemism “complications from surgery.”

“The biggest infections I see as a lawyer are these line or catheter or IV-associated infections which enter the bloodstream and then can cause damage to remote sites all over the body,” she added.

Coffey said she has handled cases locally in which infections from IVs or catheters entered the bloodstream and patients ended up losing arms or legs. The biggest cause, she says, is doctors and nurses not washing their hands enough.

Coffey argues that such infections would be more preventable if hospitals were forced to publish transparent, timely data on their infection rates.

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