Don't let a Hospital kill your child...

Sharon - posted on 01/06/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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this article got me thinking - again - I HATE going to hospitals and being stuck in a waiting room with snot covered kids blowing sneezes all over and wiping their damned hands on the walls.

THEN there are the adults. Kids are one thing. They're kids! But adults ???? OMFG NASTY.

Hospitals and doctor offices forcing us to stay in a small confined room with contagious people really just pisses me the fuck off.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/06/chi...

(CNN) -- Here's what Katie Roche expected when she went into the hospital for spine surgery: two titanium rods, a bone graft, 17 screws in her vertebrae, eight hours in the operating room, and a week's stay in the hospital to recover.

Here's what she didn't expect on top of all that: sharing a hospital room with a feverish 6 year old and contracting a nasty bacterial infection her mother says nearly killed her.

"She got so weak she couldn't even get out of bed to go to the bathroom -- I had to carry her," says her mother, Kathleen Roche. "For about 48 hours, I didn't think we'd have Katie with us much longer."

Because of the infection she picked up at the hospital, Katie, who was 19 at the time, dropped from 120 to 90 pounds.

The bacterium that made her so sick is called Clostridium difficile, and according to a study out this week, it's more common than ever among hospitalized children in the United States, and children who get it are more likely to die or require surgery.

The study found Clostridium difficile infections in hospitalized children went up 15% percent per year from 1997, when there were 3,565 infections, to 2006, when there were 7,779 infections.

The study looked at 10.5 million pediatric patients from 1997 to 2006, of whom 21,274, or 0.2%, had C. diff, as the bacteria are commonly called. The study was published this week in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

"This is huge, and really concerning," says Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Quality and Safety research group at Johns Hopkins University. What's really disturbing, he says, is that these children didn't have to get sick.

"Most of these infections are preventable," he added.

Katie's story

Katie was a healthy 19-year-old avid soccer and volleyball player when she went into a New York City hospital in August 2008, for surgery to correct her scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. The surgery was successful, and she was discharged six days later doing well, except for a low-grade fever.

Katie's family, brother Michael, mom Kathleen, and her father, Mike, feared that Katie would die at the hospital.A few days after she returned home to Katonah, a suburb of New York, Katie took a turn for the worse when the incisions on her back opened up and she began to feel weak. Her mother called the doctor, and he told her to bring Katie back to the hospital.

Doctors found Katie had an infection -- not C. diff, but another bacterium -- and did a surgery to clear it up.

"When I woke up from that surgery I thought that was it, I was done, but they told me I'd be having another surgery in 48 hours," she remembers. "And then I had to have another one, and then another one."

Katie and her parents didn't know it, but her situation was the perfect storm for a C. diff infection. She was taking massive doses of intravenous antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria in the gut, and C. diff thrives in the absence of good bacteria.

"I was throwing up all the time, and was so weak that one day I just blacked out in my hospital bed," she remembers.

The antibiotic Flagyl cleared up the C. diff, but by that time it had ravaged her intestines. "It took six months for me to eat normally again," she remembers.

"There's no excuse"

Across the country in California, Pacific Hospital of Long Beach has fixed its C. diff problem.

Three years ago, the hospital had 5.3 C.. diff infections for every 1,000 hospital admissions, and in the past three years it's had none at all, according to Dr. Alfonso Torress-Cook, epidemiologist for the hospital.

"It's frustrating, because some hospitals say there's nothing they can do about their C. diff rates," he says. "But that's no excuse. They could do a lot of things."

Based on Pacific Hospital's success, here are some things parents can do to protect their children from C.diff when they're in the hospital.

For more information on preventing other types of hospital infections, see information from The Empowered Patient and the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

1. Give your child yogurt

At Pacific, patients at high risk of C.diff are given yogurt because it helps restore the good bacteria in the gut that in turn help fight off bad bacteria.

If your hospital doesn't offer yogurt, Torress-Cook suggests that you bring it in yourself and that one serving a day is enough to help protect your child.

If a child can't eat, he can take probiotic supplements containing lactobacillus. For babies, breast milk helps protect against C.diff infections.

2. Know the signs of c.diff infection

If your child has watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, fast breathing, or is extremely sleepy, ask your doctor if it could be a C.diff infection.

"It's not any one symptom, but the whole picture that's important," Pronovost says. "If as a parent your gut tells you your child just isn't normal, there's likely truth in that."

He adds that parents sometimes notice signs of infection before doctors or nurses.

"Parents are with their kids all the time," he says. "And nurses are by the bedside for twelve hours. As the attending physician, I actually have the least amount of time with the patient."

3. Clean everything

C. diff spreads when someone touches the feces of an infected person, and then touches someone else, or touches a surface, such as a doorknob, that someone else will later touch.

At Pacific, officials credit much of their success against the bacteria to a thorough cleaning of every room, even making sure to change the mop head between rooms.

Torress-Cook recommends bringing your own disinfectant wipes and cleaning commonly touched surfaces, such as bedrails.

The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths has more on how routine cleaning by hospital staff might not be enough to control C.diff.

4. Ask for a private room

Kathleen Roche says they'll never know how Katie got sick, but they wonder if she got it from a feverish little girl who shared a room with Katie during both her first and second hospital stays.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that a patient with C. diff have his or her own room. If you're concerned your child's roommate is ill -- or that your child is ill -- you can ask to be separated.

5. Make sure hospital staff wears glove, gowns

After Katie was moved into her own room, her parents were told to wear gowns to cover their clothing and prevent the spread of their daughter's infection to themselves and others. They noticed, however, that doctors and nurses did not wear gowns when visiting their daughter.

"There should be no difference whatsoever between precautions for the parents and precautions for the staff," Pronovost says. "If there is a difference, it's likely the staff is being noncompliant."

If you see doctors and nurses aren't gowning up or washing their hands, tell them, Pronovost advises.

"As a parent I know we worry we're going to piss off the doctor if we ask too many questions," he says. "But the reality is it's your child's life on the line, so it's worth taking a risk."

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I really avoid doctor offices and hospitals at all costs.

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Isobel - posted on 01/06/2011

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what is C.?

When Q had hand, foot and mouth disease, I took him to the nurse in charge of the urgent care and said "I think he's contagious...could we sit alone in a room instead of out here?" and she put us in one...I think more people should do that.

April - posted on 01/06/2011

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I was just telling my husband that I want to have our next baby at home because there is LESS chance of infection when babies are birthed at home. Unless it was a matter of life or death...why would I want to birth my baby in a place for sick people?!

Jenn - posted on 01/06/2011

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We've had outbreaks of C difficile at the hospital here (I read about it in the paper). I know when I went to the ER recently because of my cough (I thought I might have pneumonia), I had to wear a mask while there so as to not get anyone else sick. I'm not the type to run to the Dr at the first sign of a sniffle - I think it's a waste of time and money - and now this is just another reason to wait. I will go only when necessary.

Kate CP - posted on 01/06/2011

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Laura: It stands for Clostridium difficile...it was in the article.

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Stifler's - posted on 01/06/2011

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I can't say I've ever gotten sick from the doctor. Every doctor here is like IF YOU HAVE SNIFFLES, COUGH ETC. PLEASE SEE RECEPTION FOR A MASK SO YOU DON'T CONTAMINATE OTHER PATIENTS. my grandma always reckoned to wash my hands after handling supermarket trolleys, money, touching things in public etc. so that's what I do.

Tara - posted on 01/06/2011

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No doctors or hospitals for our family unless something is serious. And when I do have to go to our family doctor, the clinic is so clean, and large that you can sit very very far away from anyone. They also have boxes with anti bacterial wipes on every table, and signs saying wipe the arms of your chair, etc.
As well they removed all the magazines, pamphlets and toys and books so that people keep their hands to themselves. They also provide masks and instruct anyone with any kind of cough to wear them.
I think they go a lot further than most, but it's a fairly new facility and the staff are great.
The stats on post birth infections in both mom and babies who are born in a hospital are higher than those of moms who birth at home.
Babies have died because of contracting common hospital infections like C. and others. Healthy babies, not just those in nicu.
I avoid them at all costs, luckily we're a healthy family with healthy kids and a smart mom who knows when to go and when not to go.
My 8 year old daughter has never been in the hospital, ever. my 10 year old makes up for both of her sisters' lack of injuries requiring medical attention. Sometimes by ambulance!

Minnie - posted on 01/06/2011

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April: from what you know of me personally and my...relationship (or lack there of?) with the medical establishment I'm sure you could infer a bit as to what we think of well-baby check ups, lol.

Nicole - posted on 01/06/2011

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My grandfather died from c. diff. Granted, he was an older man, but he was originally hospitalized for pneumonia and got the c. diff. while there. They blamed it on the fact that he was on antibiotics which I know can make a difference, but he should have been given probiotics with such heavy antibiotics. He was recovering well from his pneumonia, too. It wasn't until he started getting sick again and yet his lungs looked good, that they tested him for c. diff. and he was deceased within a few days of the diagnosis.

I think that there are simple changes in hospital practices that could make a world of difference for things like that.

For example: When my brother was in the hospital once, he was there for some time, and we had all been in and out visiting him for several days and then he started getting sicker and they said they didn't know why. This went on for several days with all of us still in and out visiting until one day I get there and they stop me and tell me I have to put on a gown, gloves and mask because he had contracted MRSA. My first thought: Isn't it a little late? He has obviously had this for at least a few days and we have touched him, hugged him, etc. While it is obvious that we were smart enough to wash our hands while entering and leaving his room before this diagnosis, we were not as safe as we should have been while visiting. That is how things like that are spread. Couldn't they have tested earlier or at least said "he obviously has some sort of infection, just to be safe, follow these guidelines." Not to mention that the hospital staff had been in and out for days without putting all that garb on before moving onto other patients... and now we know how these things are spread in hospitals. Stupid!

Sarah - posted on 01/06/2011

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April, I've always taken my son to his well baby check ups. They have a little waiting room for "well children" only...actually I think it's just for infants. Anyway, I'm just really careful about staying away from other children in the waiting room. I also make sure my son doesn't touch anything or put his hands in his mouth (which is really hard with a young toddler!).

Mary - posted on 01/06/2011

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Sherri, I didn't expect special treatment...I expected that a prescription that had been called in 2 hours prior, and which I called to verify it was ready before leaving the house would actually BE ready like they said it was. I didn't mind the initial wait at the pick-up counter. I did mind the additional 30 minutes I had to wait because the fucker wasn't ready.

My point is that I was not only trying to minimize my child's discomfort, but I was also trying to minimize everyone else's exposure to her rather contagious self. As it was, she was in there hacking away in that small space full of heated, recirculated air. She just turned two, so it's not like she's consistent about covering her mouth, especially when she's this miserable. It's not like I could leave her out the car to wait while I ran in to get it, and I couldn't ask anyone else to watch her, since my house is a freakin germ fest right now (I've gotten her URI as well now - joy!).

Sarah - posted on 01/06/2011

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I worked in a hospital from 2008-2009 in inpatient occupational therapy & remember working with several patients who had C. Diff. Yuck. At our hospital all of the patients with a known C. Diff infection were REQUIRED to be isolated in his/her own room. Anyone entering the room must wear a gown & gloves, and wash hands thoroughly before entering & upon leaving the room.



When I was pregnant with my son in 2009, I refused to go in a room with a patient who had a known C. Diff infection. Even though I would most likely be protected by taking the necessary precautions, it wasn't worth the risk to me. I will not take my son to the doctor or hospital unless it's absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, my son has to have surgery in the next few months & I'm going to make sure our hospital room is absolutely spotless. Knowing what I know about hospitals, just the thought of these nasty bacteria makes me sick.

April - posted on 01/06/2011

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what about "well baby" check ups? does anyone avoid those and just do the measurements and weigh ins at home? I was thinking about this at Zach's 2 year old well baby check up. All they did was weigh him and measure how long he is. They checked his hips, listened to his heart and looked in his ears. Nothing I can't do myself, right?

Isobel - posted on 01/06/2011

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no...but she called ahead...they could've easily said nope, it's not ready yet

Mary - posted on 01/06/2011

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I just posted a rant on FB about a similar topic. My two y/o developed a nasty upper respiratory infection Sunday night. Viral in nature, and not requiring antibiotics, until all that congestion backed up and caused an ear infection. No doubt in my mind about what it is, so I asked her ped to call an Rx for amoxicillin (I work with him, and he knows that I am not one to needlessly medicate with antibiotics - it's only the 2nd time in her life she's gotten them). I wanted to avoid his waiting room full of other sick kids, or expose a healthy kid to her bugs.

I also called in to the pharmacy ahead of time to insure that it was ready and waiting for pick-up. I clearly explained that I would have a febrile, coughing, runny-nosed toddler in tow. Those damned fools...first, we had to wait 15 minutes in line to be told, no, it's not quite ready yet. Then, once it was ready, they wanted us to get back in line again to actually get it and pay for it. We spent 45 fucking minutes in that pharmacy, with her hacking the whole time, and people giving me dirty looks. Really wasn't much I could do about it, though...and by the time we left, I was so annoyed I half hoped she did infect every fucker in there =(

Kate CP - posted on 01/06/2011

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That's okay, I skimmed too. I just did it more than once because I missed some stuff, lol! ;)

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I don't like hospitals or doctor's offices either. I go when absolutely necessary, but I'll try other remedies first unless it's serious (obviously). Wanna get sick? Or sicker than you already are? Go to the doctor.

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