Is McDonald’s Really the Big Problem in Hospitals? Or Preventable Infections and Healthcare Quality Problems?
It hasn’t quite reached the level of hysteria as “pink slime,” but I’ve seen an inordinate amount of attention being given to the issue of McDonald’s being located inside hospitals. A group of physicians have encouraged hospitals, especially children’s hospitals, to boot the fast food giant: “Children’s Hospitals Urged to Show McDonald’s the Door.”
It might seem strange to have food generally labeled as unhealthy to be inside a healthcare facility. But, are we focused on the highest-impact problem with this hype?
Hospital cafeterias are often full of unhealthy options. I could, if I wanted, just as easily get fried foods, sweets, and hamburgers there. One hospital client of mine had a new cafeteria chef who tried introducing healthier options, but parents complained that they wanted mashed potatoes and other comfort foods when their kids were sick and in the hospital. So, in the name of patient/family satisfaction, the hospital caved in.
Either way, the issue isn’t just McDonald’s.
As mentioned on one cable news talk fest, the problem of hospital-acquired infections is a FAR more serious issue, as approximately 100,000 hospital patients die every year due to infections that are increasingly seen as preventable.
See the data on the scale of the quality and patient safety problem in the United States and around the world.
NOTE: Total deaths from errors and infections would be quoted as 99,000 plus one of the top three estimates.Hospital errors rank between the fifth and eighth leading cause of death, killing more Americans than breast cancer, traffic accidents or AIDS (IOM).Just one type of errorâ€”preventable adverse drug eventsâ€”caused one out of five injuries or deaths per year to patients in the hospitals that were studied (AHRQ, 2000).
See collected results of hospitals that are dramatically reducing infections and other quality and patient safety problems. We have pockets of success, but the industry, as a whole, is not improving quickly enough.
Organization: Allegheny General Hospital (PA)
- (Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections) CLABIs were nearly eliminated, falling 76 percent from 49 infections in 37 patients (5.1 per 1,000 line days) in the year before the intervention to six infections in six patients (1.2 per 1,000 line days) during the intervention year (Figure 11). Among patients with CLABs, the number of deaths decreased 95 percent and the death rate decreased 69 percent, from 19 of 37 patients (51%) to 1 of 6 patients (16%). Of the six CLABs that occurred, four were attributed to failures to follow specific guidelines.
Where is the outrage over healthcare quality and safety?