Patient Watch

Study: Hospital Infections Left 48,000 Dead

Most people go to the hospital to get well, but sometimes the hospital can kill relatively healthy patients. In fact, 48,000 people died from pneumonia and blood-borne infections caught in U.S. hospitals in 2006, according to a study released today. The report is one of the first to put a price tag—a whopping $8.1 billion in 2006—on the issue, which is worsening each year. Some experts say that hospital-acquired diseases are adding to the rising cost of health care in the U.S. "In many cases, these conditions could have been avoided with better infection control in hospitals," said a researcher from a think tank that sponsored the study. More handwashing and screening patients for infectious disease when they check in would help.