This medical video looks into the four major steps that are needed to save a patients life.
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Jennifer Matthews: On the outside, Dan Viratos looks like just another guy with his dog. But he has constant pain. He's had 14 surgeries on the same knee. Dan Viratos: There are days I actually wake up in the morning, and I know I can't get out of bed. Jennifer Matthews: Surprisingly, the pain is not from his surgeries. It started when he developed a staph infection in the hospital after the surgeries. Each year, 2 million people will pick up some kind of infection in the hospital. About 100,000 will die. Dr. Barry Farr: Over the past decade, we have seen downsizing of hospitals. We have seen downsizing of the infection control programs. Jennifer Matthews: But Doctor Barry Farr says there are simple ways hospitals can lower their infection risk. First, implement a hand-washing program. Studies show nearly 50 percent of doctors and nurses don't wash their hands between patients. The CDC says this alone could prevent up to 20,000 deaths each year. Next, screen all high-risk patients for MRSA, a dangerous and common hospital-acquired infection. Isolate those who test positive. Dr. Barry Farr: If you're not taking this approach, there's a cost to not doing it, which is having high rates of more expensive infections. Jennifer Matthews: It's been used at the University of Virginia since 1980 with great success. Another step: Hire an intensivist like Peter Pronovost. They monitor patients in high-risk areas of the hospital and can reduce mortality by 30 percent. Dr. Peter Pronovost: In most hospitals in the country, that doesn't exist, indeed, probably somewhere between only 10 or 20 percent of hospitals have this. Jennifer Matthews: Finally, Doctor Sanjay Saint recommends antiseptic-coated catheters. By taking this step, the University of Michigan decreased infections by 36 percent and saved money. Dr. Sanjay Saint: The savings that come from a decreased length of stay, as well as reduced antibiotic use will lead to a net savings of money. Dr. Barry Farr: We're taking the ounce-of-prevention approach. Many other hospitals are taking the pound-of-cure approach. Jennifer Matthews: For Dan, that pound of cure has cost him more than pain. He's lost his job and his peace of mind. Dan Viratos: The future? What's the future hold? I think psychologically, I think, I'm on pins and needles. Jennifer Matthews: Now, he faces an uncertain future brought on by an unnecessary infection. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.