A call for change in hospital cleaning and patient protection measures. 

Do you know someone who has been in the hospital recently, or have you been in a hospital bed? Most of us have or will visit a hospital every year for some reason. Hospitals are a breeding ground for germs, despite desperate cleaning measures and practices to create safe environments for patients, staff, and visitors. What if I told you, a hospital bed with a previously infected patient increases your risk of infection 583 percent.

Yes, that is correct, 583 percent. A recent study by Columbia University researchers exposed hospital beds are full of germs. While hospitals wash sheets, disinfect beds, and more, the data gathered from four New York hospitals concludes, “enhanced cleaning measures” are needed.

The hospital bed study, published in the current issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, comes as no surprise with an increased awareness of bacteria and superbugs spreading vigorously throughout American hospitals. Even the CDC is concerned.

What can we do about deadly and infectious bacteria in our hospitals, causing harm to the people we love and care about?

Hospital protocols need to be open to change- open to adopting disruptors in the industry looking to protect against the organisms causing harm. Most hospitals have routine measures in place for cleaning or for the use of products, whether we are talking about for patients or surfaces.

Change of routine is not something many consider with arms wide open. It is a process, and can be lengthy. First the new idea or product has to be adopted by a decision maker at the hospital. Next is has to be put it into practice, and third the staff needs to be on board. Ultimately, change comes down to a facilities bottom line, alliances, and if the proposed change will be effective.

In her book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Elisabeth Rosenthal exposes rising medical costs and how big pharma, hospitals, and patients are all contributing to the increase. It is up to all of us to do something about it, and some are.

Entrepreneurs and college research teams are working towards better healthcare solutions daily. One company, Beacon Linens, has created a hospital bed sheet with active antimicrobial agents to help protect against harmful bacteria in hospitals. If the technology behind the sheets does what it claims in regards to both durability and its effectiveness against unwanted bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew, this could be a game changer in healthcare. (Beacon also produces an antimicrobial sheet set for home and travel.) Examples such as this are coming to the surface daily, with a promise in mind to help fight the battle against harmful bacteria.

The question remains, how do we get new technology and protocols adopted in hospitals and clinics. 22,000 deaths occur annually due to infections in hospitals, however that number is rapidly increasing. According to this New York Post article, “On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that ‘nightmare bacteria’ — causing infections that cannot be cured with most antibiotics — are spreading throughout US hospitals. Fifty percent of patients who get these infections die.

Everyone is calling for new measures and for change. Our hospitals are under attack, and our bodies are resisting antibiotics. This opens to a deeper discussion in regards to the skin microbiome and protecting our body’s largest organ, but let’s shelf that topic for now. It is up to us to speak up, to ask questions, and to help create change.

Bacteria is winning, are we going to stop it or let it stop us?