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Your Airline Flight Safer than your Michigan Hospital Stay?

Many people claim to have a natural aversion to hospitals, doctors and, of course, needles. A new statistic may lend credibility to the notion that the common fear of hospitals may be rooted - at least partially - in a human defense mechanism. The World Health Organization's (WHO) Envory for Patient Safety, Sir Liam Donaldson, recently stated that staying in a hospital is far more dangerous than flying in an airplane.

Donaldson pegged the risk of dying in an aircraft crash at 1 in 10 million. Shockingly, your chances of dying from a hospital error are much greater at 1 in 300. While that number is worldwide - Michigan hospitals are presumably less risky than the worldwide average - the number is still an alarming wake-up call for many patients.

According to CTV News, the U.S. hospital infection rate is 4.5 percent. While that easily bests Europe (7 percent) and Canada (11.6 percent), it is still a troubling statistic. It indicates that nearly five of every 100 patients hospitalized in Michigan will suffer a potentially fatal infection.

The WHO explains that these infections are often easily preventable, yet occur when doctors, nurses or technicians fail to wash their hands before making contact with patients. Some of the common infections derive from surgical site infections and urinary catheters.

Not only are these medical infections dangerous, but they often keep the patient in the hospital for a much longer stay, causing the patient more pain, suffering, medical expenses and time away from their home or work. If you are visiting a Michigan hospital, you should certainly consider asking your doctors and nurses if they have sanitized their hands.

Source: CTV News, "Hospital stays are riskier than flying, says WHO" Aug. 8, 2011.

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