opinion web
Liberal Opinion General Opinion
Betsy McCaughey
Liberty Belle
25 Nov 2015
A War on Men

If you're at risk of prostate cancer — in other words, if you're male — the best place to be is … Read More.

24 Nov 2015
Stop Obama's Backdoor Insurance Company Bailout

How dare the Obama administration bail out insurance companies with our money in order to hide Obamacare's failures.… Read More.

18 Nov 2015
Refugee Screening Is a Sham

At least one of the bombers in the Paris massacre last weekend allegedly sneaked into France posing as a … Read More.

Lethal Lies About Hospital Infections


It's hard to know which is worse, the dying or the lying.

A bacterial infection called C. diff is the No. 1 hospital-infection killer, according to information released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 26. It kills more people than dreaded staph infections and about as many as AIDS.

What about the lying? Well, hospital personnel often tell patients and families that antibiotics are to blame. The CDC repeats that same lethal lie. Sorry, but the real culprit is inadequate cleaning in hospitals.

C. diff spreads through the hospital on nurses' uniforms, wheelchairs, bedsheets, call buttons and other surfaces, where it can survive for months.

Patients touch these surfaces, then pick up food without washing their hands first, and swallow the germ along with their food. Once in the gastrointestinal tract, C. diff can cause severe diarrhea, which can sometimes result in deadly complications.

How virulent is this germ? According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, a patient who goes into the hospital for one problem and then contracts C. diff is 4.5 times as likely to die as a patient admitted with the same diagnosis but avoids contracting C. diff. A shocking 9 percent of patients with C. diff don't survive their stays.

Yes, patients on heavy doses of antibiotics are especially vulnerable, because antibiotics kill other bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that would keep C. diff under control. But antibiotics don't cause C. diff.

Contaminated surfaces are to blame. Most C. diff victims pick up the germ in the hospital; most of the rest, in a nursing home, doctor's office or during a previous hospital stay.

There's an answer. The Mayo Clinic reduced C. diff by 79 percent in a pilot project by doing one thing: wiping the frequently touched surfaces around patients' beds once a day with a bleach wipe.

You'd think hospitals everywhere would be scrubbing surfaces to duplicate this success. Outrageously, most are not.

The manpower used to mop floors could be redirected toward cleaning surfaces doctors and patients touch.

Rigorous cleaning is essential, with bleach or another effective germ-killer, because the C. diff germ is encased in a hard shell, making it harder to kill on surfaces than the AIDS virus, for example.

Harder to kill on surfaces but easier to deal with in every other way. It's a matter of cleaning, not addressing drug addiction or unsafe sex. Keep the surfaces around the patient's bed meticulously clean, and C. diff can be nearly eradicated. We have the knowledge; what's lacking is the will.

Although C. diff claims about the same number of American lives as AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control and hospitals are not responding with the passion that tamed the AIDS threat. The CDC says its aim is to reduce C. diff by 33 percent over five years — a pathetically timid goal. It reduced it by a puny 2 percent from 2011 to 2012.

The CDC stresses reducing the use of antibiotics in hospitals. Fine for a long-term approach. That's like responding to Hurricane Sandy by discussing worldwide weather patterns. What is also needed is immediate, proven barriers to stop the dying. In the case of C. diff, that means better hospital cleaning and other steps to keep C. diff from entering patients' mouths.

The CDC's March 26 press release tells patients to ask their doctors whether they are on the correct antibiotics. What they should be advised is to ask for a clean hospital room and for help cleaning their own hands, especially before meals.

The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths donates printed tray cards to hospitals to remind patients to wash their hands before eating and avoid putting their utensils anywhere except their plates. Shamefully, some hospital personnel say they don't want to tell patients about germs around the bed and the need to take precautions.

If you're going to the hospital to visit someone you love, don't bother with flowers or candy. Instead, bring a canister of bleach wipes and a pair of gloves. You could be saving a life.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and the author of "Beating Obamacare." She reads the law so you don't have to. Visit To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Betsy McCaughey
Nov. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Deb Saunders
Debra J. SaundersUpdated 29 Nov 2015
Erick Erickson
Erick EricksonUpdated 27 Nov 2015
Patrick Buchanan
Pat BuchananUpdated 27 Nov 2015

19 Jun 2013 Creating a Permanent Democratic Majority

27 Feb 2015 Nation Big Winner if Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies

22 Apr 2015 Democracy at Its Best