Doing the Math on Hospital-Acquired Infections

To get a sense of the disproportionate number of deaths caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in Canada each year, I drew up a list of some other well-known causes of death. The number shown represents deaths per year.

Breast cancer …………………..  5,000

HIV/AIDS ……………………….. 1,000

Motor vehicle accidents ……….  1,000

Homicide……………………………543

_____

TOTAL                                          7,543

Now compare the Total to the annual number of deaths caused by HAIs: 8,000 – 12,000.

In other words, HAIs cause more deaths in Canada each year than breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, traffic accidents, and homicides combined – and that’s using the lower figure of 8,000.

Here’s the thing. People I know – professional types – aren’t even sure what an HAI is. When you ask them they tend to answer with a question, such as, “Well, do you mean ….”  Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t. But when you tell them how many lives it claims and how many people are infected each year – around 220,000 – they are positively stunned, verging on disbelief.

It’s this total lack of awareness that’s so inexplicable. That’s the part in all of this that just doesn’t add up.

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