Deadly Care: New Study Outlines Just How Dangerous Hospitals Are To Your Health

Hospitals Kill People: New Study Shows Just How Deadly Hospitals Have Become

When they asked Willie Sutton why he kept robbing banks, his terse reply was, “Because that’s where the money is.”

In the same vein, it turns out that hospitals are deadly. Why? Well, because they’re full of sick people, to begin with.

But it goes much deeper than that, and it may not be for the reasons you think.

A disturbing new study shows that more and more people are becoming infected with nigh-untreatable infections as a result of hospital stays, and they think it may have to do with gut flora.

Clostridium difficile is an infection that causes diarrhea, fever, nausea and abdominal pain. In patients who are already in a weakened state due to other illness–hence the hospital stay–an infection of C. diff can mean death, due to dehydration or other causes. It can lead to psuedomembranous colitis, toxic megacolon, perforation of the colon and even sepsis.


And if an elderly or otherwise immune-weakened patient has to fight off something like that, the odds are often against them.

What this study shows then is that a person’s gut flora–those bacteria that make up the mircrobiome of your digestive system and keep you healthy–is severely reduced within days or even hours of being admitted to the hospital.

The study, which looked only at patients admitted to the ICU, analyzed microbes in patient’s mouths, guts, and skin. What they found was what is called a dysbiosis, or bacterial imbalance that worsened the longer the patients stayed in the hospital. When their bacteria count was compared to those of healthy people, patients in the ICU were found to have depleted populations of health-promoting microbes and higher counts of pathogenic strains of bacteria. This of course makes the patients vulnerable to hospital-acquired infections.

“The results were what we feared them to be,” says lead study author Paul Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We saw a massive depletion of normal, health-promoting species.”

Wishchmeyer hypothesizes that it is certain practices common in ICUs that lead to this devastation of healthy gut bacteria, including the use of powerful antibiotics, blood pressure-sustaining medication, and a lack of nutrition in ill patients.

And while it is obviously true that patients in the ICU are already by definition the sickest among all of a hospital’s patients, and thus more susceptible to illnesses like C. diff–and also more susceptible to the worst conceivable outcomes of such and infection–keep in mind that such infections are not good for anyone, even healthy people.

Also, as hospitals strive to treat such infections using the most powerful antibiotics available, they may be inadvertently making the problem worse by causing mutations in the C. diff bacteria that make it even stronger and more untreatable next time around.

In other words, you best bet is to stay the hell out of the hospital if you can help it, whether you’re sick or healthy.

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