A new study shows that about 1 in 25 patients picked up a hospital infection while being treated in 2011.
The research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, includes results from a survey of 183 hospitals in 10 states.
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According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients contracted 721,800 infections
in 2011, and about 75,000 of those sickened died. The most common infections were pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, and surgical-site infections.
Though the results of the study sound alarming, the rate of hospital infections has actually dropped over the last few years. For example, CNN reported, the number of patients who developed bloodstream infections
dropped 44 percent from 2008 to 2012.
"But at the same time, we're not doing a perfect job of doing everything we should, every single time," Dr. Michael Bell, director of the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, told CNN. "And there's some things which we haven't figured out how best to manage — yet."
Health experts encourage patients to research their local hospitals' infection rates ahead of time, if possible, and ask questions once admitted.
"Even though we've had great success nationally, there still are pockets of hospitals that have rates of infection that are several times the national average. The reality is that oftentimes there's very little that's being done about it," Dr. Peter Pronovost, the director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins, told CNN. "There's no accountability for a hospital that has very high infection rates, and my sense is, there absolutely needs to be."
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