Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dirty Hospitals vs. Dirty Dishes

Why are restaurants inspected for cleanliness more often than hospitals? In New York restaurants are inspected without warning at least once each year. In L.A. it's three times per year and as you know restaurants must post their ratings at the door for all to see. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 2,500 people die each year from a food-borne illness from a restaurant or supermarket nearly 40x that number or 100,000 people die each year from infections contracted in health care facilities.

We used to inspect hospitals regularly but that changed in 1970 thanks to the CDC and the American Hospital Association. Today hospitals are looked at by the Joint Commission every three years, and that's not enough to guarantee they're clean. A study in California this year found 25% of hospitals surveyed as a result of complaints were unsanitary, even though they'd been accredited the previous year. When do we get to see the cleanliness rating of a hospital at the front door?

Not to make you feel any worse but doctor's offices aren't inspected at all. Think about that the next time you're sitting on that examination table with almost nothing to wear.

Is it any surprise many people feel their lives are being put at risk to protect a doctor's livelihood? Could it be the financial (and resulting political) muscle of the medical community is influencing the regulations which determine how clean our hospitals are today?

Is it too much to ask our elected officials to make our hospitals as clean as our restaurants?

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