Fatal Hospital Infections 17 Times More Likely in U.S. Than in Europe

The U.S. ranks last among developed nations in treating preventable diseases

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Update: Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, who also blogged about this infographic, found that the chart's numbers aren't backed up by the sources indicated. Check out his explanation here. In short, it's likely best not to take this infographic at its word. We regret the error.

A startling statistic from a recently-made infographic caught the attention of the folks at The Daily Dish. "Nosocomial" or hospital-acquired infections are infections contracted by patients while they are hospitalized. In Europe, someone who gets such an infection has a one in 122 chance of dying; in the United States, the probability jumps to one in seven. That means that Americans are approximately 17 times more likely to die from these presumably preventable diseases than their brethren in the developed nations of Europe. Hospital-related infections costs the U.S. between $35 billion and $45 billion annually--a figure that could presumably be trimmed down substantially if America prevented deaths related to these infections at the rate Europe does.

That's just one datum of many deployed in the debate over which type of healthcare system works best: the U.S.'s HMO model or a heavily state-sponsored version like those in Canada, Japan, and Western Europe. The infographic offers similarly stark numbers related to medical errors (a fifth of those hospitals are harmed by one) and poor hospital sanitation (a quarter of medical workers wash their hands before entering ICUs) for the U.S. Overall, America ranks last in handling preventable diseases in hospitals among 19 developed nations.

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