Well-established hospitals spread infections

Doctors perform surgery in a hospital

Bob Moon: From one source of contamination, to an equally elusive kind of sickness: Consumer Reports has a surprising twist on hospital infections. A report out today finds they're a big problem where you'd least expect them.

Our Nancy Marshall Genzer explains.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: We're so brand-obsessed in this country, we assume that prestigious teaching hospitals have lower infection rates than community hospitals. Wrong.

Dr. John Santa heads the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. He says doctors in the big hospitals are under so much pressure, they may skip the sterile gowns and hand-washing that can prevent infections.

John Santa: Other priorities are competing with this one. Our point is, this one should be more important.

What to do? Ask doctors and nurses to wash their hands before they examine you. That can be hard. I get tongue-tied around doctors, even though I talk for a living. Santa says, be polite but firm.

Santa: We have to figure out how to get on a more equal plane with our physicians and hospitals and be comfortable speaking up.

Here's more incentive. Up to a quarter of patients who get infections in their bloodstreams, die.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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