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Hospital infections: The hidden epidemic

Las Vegas Sun, August 9, 2010

Going to the hospital puts you in harm's way. Hospitals know this and avoid talking about it. And until now, the details have not been publicly known. The Sun has spent two years investigating hospital safety in Las Vegas, including analysis of hospital billing records on file with the state. Among the findings: In 2008 and 2009, patients became infected with lethal, drug-resistant "superbugs" in area hospitals 2,010 times. Two hundred thirty-nine died — although it's impossible to tell from hospital billing records how or whether the infections factored in the patients' deaths. The microbe Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, was responsible for 647 cases of hospital-acquired infections during the two-year period. In the same span, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, triggered 1,363 infections in Las Vegas hospitals.