Although the doctor’s office is usually thought of as the place one goes to get well, most patients have known for a long time that health care facilities are a hotbed for germs. Each year, many people who visit the doctor’s office leave with more than just a prescription!
On top of that, the common cold and flu virus may not be the worst things you’ll pick up.
In fact, a recent study undertaken by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has revealed that in 2011, almost 350,000 patients contracted the potentially fatal C. difficile bacteria in community medical settings, such as doctor’s and dentist’s offices. Another study from 2013 found the harmful bacteria to be present in 6 out of the 7 Ohio outpatient clinics tested.
This is incredibly concerning, as the 2011 study also concluded that more than 15,000 deaths could be directly linked to this bacteria, which causes inflammation of the colon and potentially deadly diarrhea. Thousands of patients die within 30 days of the diagnosis.
Although researchers have known for a long time that C. difficile can lurk in hospitals, they did not know how common it was in community medical practices. In fact, according to the study, a majority of cases—66%—were picked up in these facilities, while only 24% were a result of hospitalization.
Older patients living in nursing homes were the most affected by the bacteria. Over 80 percent of the deaths linked to C. difficile happened to those 65 or older, and one out of every nine of these patients died within 30 days of their diagnosis.
Patients prescribed an antibiotic were also at a higher risk for developing a C. difficile infection, suggesting that over-prescribing and over-using antibiotics plays a role in the bacteria’s dangers. As we know, antibiotics not only kill bad bacteria—they also can kill good bacteria.
Beneficial bacteria normally serve to protect the body from future infections. When antibiotics suppress or kill them, the body is left without all of its defenses, and infection is more likely.
The CDC warned doctors to stop overprescribing antibiotics, and suggested that reducing antibiotic prescriptions by 30% could help limit deadly infections by over 25%.
In terms of patient safety, Johns Hopkins safety expert Dr. Peter Pronovost recommends questioning your doctor thoroughly to be sure you really need an antibiotic, finding out if there’s a less powerful choice that can still treat your infection, and making sure you’re being prescribed the antibiotic for the shortest amount of time possible.
Here are a few more tips for staying safe and healthy:
· Wash your hands thoroughly after visiting doctor’s offices and other medical facilities.
· Consume natural antibiotics like raw garlic, coconut oil, ginger, lemon juice, and horseradish regularly.
· Eat foods high in probiotics like organic yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut daily.
· Use antibacterial soaps and cleaning products only when absolutely necessary, as they can also wipe out beneficial bacteria.
-The Alternative Daily