Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 18, 2006

It's time to address hospital infections

With only about a month left in the legislative session, Maryland may miss another excellent opportunity to pass a bill demanding that hospitals and nursing homes report hospital-acquired infections to the public ("Md. bill seeks data on hospital infections," March 13).

Such a bill represents the first of many steps needed to stem the tide of hospital-acquired infections that is ravishing the American health care system.

Hospital-acquired infections kill about 90,000 patients and infect several million patients annually. Yet they remain a health care secret, something that patients largely misunderstand and health care administrators routinely cover up.

For example, ask any health care employee - a nurse, a doctor, or an administrator - how many hospital-acquired infections their hospital experiences annually, and you will hear a different number from all three. And no matter what number they give, one can be assured it will be a gross understatement.

Most disturbing of all, hospital-acquired infections are spreading like wildfire in U.S. hospitals because of negligence, not because they are unavoidable. Studies show that simple practices such as hand-washing, sterilization and patient isolation can save countless lives.

Hospitals and legislators must make the necessary changes to combat the hospital-acquired-infection epidemic.

Americans have waited long enough, having paid for inaction with their taxes, their health and, in far too many cases, their lives.

Joanne Lynch Suder

Baltimore

The writer is a malpractice law attorney.

Data on infections would help public

The Sun's article about Maryland considering a bill to require health care facilities to report their infection rates was right on the mark ("Md. bill seeks data on hospital infections," March 13).

Other states have this requirement and have seen reductions in infection rates.

I believe that if this infection-rate information were made public, two things would happen.

One would be that our state hospitals would be more efficient in their infection-control practices; the other is that the public would be able to make a better-informed choice about where to have their surgeries or other conditions handled.

I am involved professionally in the infection-control aspect of hospital care and have seen my fair share of the effects these antibiotic-resistant infections can have.

Infection-control practitioners in health facilities do a fine job under trying circumstances. However, no one in any profession likes to be held accountable. That's just human nature.

I hope that the General Assembly will pass this infection-control bill, which would have a positive result for our health care facilities and the public.

Phil Bauer

Bel Air

The writer is a salesman who markets infection-control products to area hospitals.

Slighting the work of religious charities

In his column on Christians and gays, Leonard Pitts Jr. says that just once he'd like to see a headline that said a Christian group boycotted to feed the hungry or marched to house the homeless ("Stop picking and choosing from the Bible," Opinion Commentary, March 12).

Has he not noticed how many churches have soup kitchens? Has he not visited any of the rescue missions that house the homeless?

Has he bothered to check out the faith-based organizations providing a helping hand up to the poor and undereducated?

Last year, Mr. Pitts wrote several columns about a trip he took to Africa. I've been there, too. How did Mr. Pitts miss the work of relief and development organizations such as Catholic Relief Services or WorldVision in many of the countries he visited? Did he miss the work the Christian Children's Fund is doing for needy children there? Or is he just disregarding the work of Christians in the interest of writing a catchy paragraph?

Will Mr. Pitts apologize to the millions of Christians and thousands of Christian organizations, churches and faith-based groups who daily feed the hungry, clothe the poor, house the homeless and provide medical care to the sick here and abroad?

I doubt it.

Vince Clews

Reisterstown

U.S. leaders escape justice for crimes

As I read reporter Jeffrey Fleishman's article about Slobodan Milosevic, I was reminded of how international justice is selectively applied ("Under leader, nation eroded," March 12).

Although we hear constantly about the crimes of Mr. Milosevic and other foreign leaders, we rarely hear that our leaders should be held to the same standard.

Should President Dwight Eisenhower and successive presidents be held accountable for the CIA's unjust overthrow of Iran's democratically elected leader in 1953?

Thousand of innocent Iranians were killed or tortured in the next 25 years as many presidents supported the shah so that the oil fields would not be nationalized.

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