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Massachusetts residents who need medical treatments that require inpatient hospital stays should take care to understand details about their conditions and treatment protocol. Among the details to learn about re what to expect at the hospital, what medications will be needed, and what outcomes are expected. In addition, patients should be aware about the risks they should watch for. While hospitals are supposed to be places at which people get well, they can also be places at which people get sick.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that more than 25 hospitalized people per day get at least one new infection. In 2011, there were an estimated 721,800 health care associated infections in the U.S. These infections occurred in various locations throughout patients’ bodies. Pneumonia was the most commonly experienced HAI followed by infections in the gastro-intestinal system, the urinary tract, the blood and surgical suture locations.

The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths reports hospital infections as the fourth leading cause of death in the nation. HIAs claim more lives each year than breast cancer and AIDS together. Perhaps one of the most tragic things about these infections is that they are completely preventable yet hospitals continue to fail to prevent them.

Some hospitals that have taken clear and direct steps to reduce the number of HAIs experienced have shown that it can be done. Much of the time, the path to improvement is in simple steps like improved handwashing compliance. Massachusetts law mandates all hospitals to report infections contracted in their facilities. Many state agencies will not provide payment to hospitals for treating these infections.