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A spreading danger

Today’s stories by Sun reporters Marshall Allen and Alex Richards about patients who have become infected by lethal, drug-resistant bacteria during stays in Las Vegas Valley hospitals should serve as a wake-up call to those medical facilities that more needs to be done to improve patient safety. The rate of patients who contracted the contagious bacteria known in shorthand as MRSA rose by 34 percent in area hospitals from 2008 to 2009.

State records available before 2008 do not indicate whether patients were infected in the hospital or had the infection when they were admitted. But the records show that 2,010 patients were infected with MRSA and Clostridium difficile, better known as C. diff, while hospitalized during the two-year period for which records are available, providing enough evidence to indicate a widespread problem that warrants immediate attention.

As Nevada State Epidemiologist Dr. Ihsan Azzam told the Sun: “Such a significant increase in these rates coupled with the threat of emerging resistant organisms in the health care setting should sound the alarm for all clinicians, hospitals, infection-control specialists and epidemiologists.”

One patient, 74-year-old Darwyn Lepper, died of infections months after undergoing hip surgery in 2008 at a local hospital. Why was that allowed to happen?

note this is part of an ongoing series: Do No Harm, which investigates hospital issues problems in Las Vegas. http://www.lasvegassun.com/hospital-care/part-two/

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