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Fungus believed to cause numerous deaths transported by linens

Even though people realize that hospitals are filled with numerous infectious diseases, not many people in Oneida think too much about hospital-acquired infections. The problem is, however, that approximately 75,000 people die each year because of infections they caught in hospitals, at least according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This also means that there are far more people who get sick, need to extend their hospital stays or otherwise suffer damages yet survive hospital-acquired infections.

It is just as much a hospital's responsibility to prevent contamination and infections as it is a surgeon's responsibility to perform procedures according to standard medical practice or a nurse's responsibility to administer the correct dosages of medicine. Hospital malpractice may not seem like a serious threat, but it certainly can be.

Unfortunately, in a recently covered outbreak out of New Orleans, five young patients died after they were infected by mucormycosis, a fungus. It appears that the fungus was in the hospital linens on which the children slept, which has prompted an investigation into how a hospital could use unclean linens.

The linens were cleaned off-site by an outside laundry company. The clean linens, however, went into the hospital on the same loading dock from which medical waste was being removed. Moreover, there weren't separate baskets to transport clean and dirty linens, meaning that clean linens were carried into the hospitals in the same baskets in which dirty linens had just been brought out. Finally, linens were stored in an area where they could come into contact with dust from a construction site.

Source: The New York Times, "A Deadly Fungus and Questions at a Hospital," Ian Urbina and Sheri Fink, April 28, 2014

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