Comparing Hospital Infection Rates

by Matilda Charles


The Medicare Hospital Compare website now provides information about

hospital safety into two areas that are especially important to seniors:

prevention of Clostridium difficile infections and methicillin-resistant

Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections. It gathered this

information through the National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention.


C. diff, as it’s called, can be life-threatening, as it causes severe

diarrhea, which causes dehydration. It can develop after taking a course

of antibiotics or being in a hospital. The spores that cause the illness

can stay on surfaces — bed railings, counters, telephones — for months.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more than a half million people get C. diff

every year, and it’s very difficult to treat. Seniors age 65 and older are

10 times more susceptible to C. diff.


MRSA isn’t a walk in the park either. It’s a staph infection that resists

the antibiotics usually used to treat it. The infection can spread all

over the body. It’s usually seen in people who have been in hospitals or

health-care settings, or who have had invasive procedures.

In other words, both of these illnesses are serious and potentially life-threatening.


If you have your choice of hospitals for a procedure, don’t you want the

one that’s more likely to keep you safe from infections?


Go to the Hospital Compare site ( and

enter your ZIP code. You can click up to three hospitals to compare. Click

Compare Now and then click Readmissions, Complications and Death. Click

Healthcare Associated Infections.


The information that’s posted now only covers the first three months of

2013, but check back in April 2014 for updates on the next six months.


Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader

questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible.


Send email to

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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