My Mom passed away this morning

Hospital Corridor Bio-hazard – flickr

She did not die of cancer or a heart attack or a stroke.  She did not have diabetes or any other disease. Some high BP but that is all. And she did not die of natural causes.

NO she died from the most likely cause these days after entering a hospital. She died of a hospital acquired infection.  

Most likely CDIFF.   She went in for a hip fracture. A common enough situation for an elderly person. But the out come has become far, far too common these days. As you can see from this piece from The Atlantic, you have a 1 in 17 chance of dying from an infection in a hospital.

The Health and Human Services department’s 2009 quality report to Congress found “very little progress” on eliminating hospital-acquired infections and called for “urgent attention” to address the shortcomings — first brought to light a decade ago.

Of five major types of serious hospital-related infections, rates of illnesses increased for three, one showed no progress, and one showed a decline. As many as 98,000 people a year die from medical errors, and preventable infections — along with medication mixups— are a significant part of the problem. MSNBC

And according to this report in WEBMD,  the incidence of CDIFF is reaching epidemic proportions.  And hospitals a loath to report this and that this particular bacteria has become more deadly and harder to treat each year.

C. diff disease can range from mild diarrhea to life-threatening colitis. The bug produces toxins that destroy the mucosal lining of the gut.

There are many different C. diff strains circulating in the U.S. But since 2000, one of these strains has gone from a minor player to become the most frequently isolated C. diff strain. The strain has several names. Referring to its genetic fingerprint, the CDC calls it NAP1. In Europe and Canada, it’s often called the 027 or BI strain.

The NAP1 strain of C. diff took off shortly after it acquired resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics. There’s some evidence it may also have acquired some resistance to Flagyl, one of the two antimicrobial agents used to treat it (the other is vancomycin).

Antibiotic resistance isn’t the only worrisome thing about NAP1. C. diff normally makes two toxins. The NAP1 strain makes 16 times more toxin A and 23 times more toxin B. And it also makes another toxin, called binary toxin, although it’s not yet clear how this toxin affects humans.

To date, the NAP1 strain has been reported in 37 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia.

A recent report shows that adult C. diff hospitalizations doubled between 2000 and 2005 to about 300,000 hospitalizations a year. That’s more hospitalizations than are seen with MRSA, which sends about 126,000 Americans to the hospital each year.

The CDC’s C. diff expert, L. Clifford McDonald, MD, tells WebMD that if you count pediatric C. diff cases and cases in the community that do not enter the hospital, there are probably half a million U.S. cases of C. diff infection each year.

And yes, it is an epidemic: The infection rate is going up by about 10% a year. But the death rate is going up even faster, says Marya Zilberberg, MD, adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and president of the EviMed Research Group. WEBMD

And for my mother it was pure torture the entire time.

14,000 Americans die every year from diarrhea-causing C. difficile (or C. diff for short) infections and 337,000 people are hospitalized, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike other healthcare-associated infections that have been on the decline over the past decade, C. diff infection rates and deaths climbed to historic highs and “pose threat across medical facilities,” adding at least $1 billion in extra costs to the health care system, said the CDC Director.

The people most at risk are those who take antibiotics and also receive medical care in any setting. This could include a nursing home, hospital, doctor’s office, outpatient surgery center, etc. Those most at risk include people who have been in a hospital or other health care facility and have taken antibiotics in the past three months, especially those over age 65. About half of all antibiotics that patients are given are not needed, raising the risk of C. diff infections.

That’s unacceptable. Everyone receiving medical care should be concerned about C. diff because the effects can be devastating and sudden.

That was the case for Peggy Lillis, a public schoolteacher in Brooklyn. In April 2010, Peggy had routine dental surgery and took a common antibiotic to aid healing. Soon, however, she developed painful diarrhea. Peggy died of C. diff within just six days.  Safe Patient Project.

A horrendous way to die. And totally preventable.  That anyone would have to undergo such mal-treatment and suffering is unconscionable. That an elderly person would wind up dying under such horrible conditions is outrageous ! Far too many doctors and specialist are completely incompetent, inexperienced and concerned only about their own fiscal bottom lines.

A corrupt and uncaring health care system that is the very epitome of this corrupt and uncaring country.  !

And the hospitals say nothing about this. Not one word. They do not tell you “Hey…you have a 1 in 17 chance of getting sicker here. And it could just kill you.”  The media will not touch it but it needs toi be shouted from the roof tops.

I have myself experienced being sicker after a hospital stay of only 3 days. With all the symptoms of a mild (in comparison) CDIFF for at least a week after being discharge. And I was only there for some tests !

People our heath care system is killing us ! In a most brutal and tortuous manner as well.  We constantly harp about the insurance aspect while our for profit heath care is committing  negligent homicide with complete impunity.

This reason above all is why we need to completely nationalize it and make all health care professionals and facilities totally accountable for their actions and lack there of.

11 thoughts on “My Mom passed away this morning

  1. And this from USA Today.

    The superbug that hit UVA four years ago — and remains a threat — belongs to a once-obscure family of drug-resistant bacteria that has stalked U.S. hospitals and nursing homes for over a decade. Now, it’s attacking in hundreds of those institutions, a USA TODAY examination shows, and it’s a fight the medical community is not well positioned to win.

    The bacteria, known as Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, are named for their ability to fight off carbapenem antibiotics — the last line of defense in the medical toolbox. And so far, they’ve emerged almost exclusively in health care facilities, picking off the weakest of patients.

    The bacteria made headlines this summer after a CRE strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae battered the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center outside Washington, D.C. Seven died, including a 16-year-old boy. (Hospitals don’t reveal victims’ names in keeping with medical privacy rules.) But that case was neither the first nor the worst of the CRE attacks.

  2. Pingback: Cool Jazz, Rational Cities « Donal

  3. Oh C: I’m so sorry!!!!! I spent all of yesterday with 93 year old “uncle” so I was never on-line.. Your links are helpful and I’m going to all of them this weekend, as you know this is not something that is unique.. AGAIN, I feel sorrow for you and please believe that you’re in my thoughts. ps all though it goes against my own father’s personal/medical beliefs, I also believe a nationalized healthcare system would produce better care. When the bottom line is the only line, nothing works well for the individual. Take care of yourself. dru

  4. My dear C, what unexpected, sad news to hear that your mum has walked on. My deepest and most sincere condolences.

    We think we are safe because we’ve been conditioned to believe science will protect us, but when something like a morphing bacteria can out pace our best efforts, we lose.

    As you know, I am in the middle of my own healthcare debacle and have run smack dab up against the insurance industry and their arbitrary bottom line. I so do not care about their fucking bottom line anymore.

    • Oh flower. I surely can relate to your attitude. I so fucking do not care about anyone’s bottom line any more. Worst of all is that we are getting people into the medical profession who are educated idiots. Bereft of common sense and judgement. People who can follow the directions in the book but can no longer think.

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