Battling deadly healthcare-acquired infections

When you check in to a hospital you expect to get better.

But tens of thousands of patients are instead dying every year because of infections they contract while in health care facilities.

Doctors say infectious bacteria are getting tougher to kill and are putting more and more patients at risk.

So on Wednesday, some of the biggest names in health care joined together to release new guidelines for hospitals.
More than a year after the MRSA scare drew nationwide attention.
Officials say all types of infections are still rampant in American hospitals.
The numbers are staggering.

90,000 people die every year as a result of infections they pick up while receiving medical treatment.
The problem costs the system up to six and a half billion extra per year.

So for the first time, leaders in the healthcare industry like the American Hospital Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America are joining together to stop the spread.
"As of today the nations infection control team has a common playbook. One that harnesses the latest authoritive information in clear and concise ways," said Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of American Hospital Association.

The new recommendations include guidelines on how doctors and patients can prevent infection, and how hospitals can develop active surveillance programs.

"In 2009 we will expect all hospitals to review their current practices, and their risks and consider which of these strategies they need to add," said Joint Commission member Dr. Robert Wise.

Some hospitals are now using machines to detect the DNA of staph infections within just two hours.

"DNA is specific so it codes. You're looking at like a 99.99 percent accuracy rate with this," said Angie Silva, of St. Mark's Hospital.

But the guidelines go from the high tech to very low tech and something everyone can do to help.
Hand washing may still be the best way to prevent infections from spreading, something simple, that could ultimately save lives.

Experts say don't be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse if he or she has washed their hands.

The new guidelines say patients and family members need to remain vigilant as well to slow the spread of infection.