a medical consultant with two nurses walk along a hospital corridor

Most of us want to get out of a hospital as soon as we have been admitted and we can all agree that the biggest reason is the risk of catching something worse than what put us in the hospital in the first place. According to the WHO, every 10th person admitted to the hospital will acquire an infection after they have been admitted to the hospital.

So our fear is not uncounted for.

One of the worst infections we as a patient can acquire is MRSA, which is a dangerous antibiotic-resistant staph infection that is very hard to treat. Today, hospitals in the US have the option to screen for these infections to catch them before they become a real problem. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of hospitals does great and the vast majority are not doing as well as they should be” says Joe Kiani chairman of the board of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation.

MRSA can easily be avoided by ensuring that it is not spread inside the hospital. Often MRSA is brought to the hospital by patients carrying it. From them the bacteria is transferred by the hands of healthcare workers to other patients due to the lack of hand hygiene. Veterans Affairs medical centers reduced staph infections by 43 percent from 2005 to 2017 by implementing a broad MRSA prevention program, the CDC reported. The program included MRSA screening, gloves and gowns on workers, and most importantly an increased emphasis on hand hygiene guidelines.

Yet hospitals are still reluctant to do what it takes to ensure staff comply to hand hygiene guidelines. Kiani hopes the research will prompt hospitals to adopt protocols and checklists to prevent improve compliance and to reduce MRSA.

Zero infections isn't "something you hope happens," he says. "You plan for it to happen."

He recommends tying employee bonuses to infection reduction. – what do you think of that suggestion?