Each year, 100,000 people die from infections they picked up in the hospital. These are completely preventable diseases, caused by human error. But they result in as many annual deaths as AIDS, breast cancer and car accidents combined. They cost our health-care system $33 billion annually.
As a physician and parent, I’ve seen the tragic consequences of this phenomenon firsthand. Five years ago, my young son required an emergency appendectomy. His surgery went well and his recovery was on track. Then, he was exposed to Clostridium difficile by his roommate. Instead of returning to school within the week, he was bedridden for nearly two months with unrelenting diarrhea, weight loss and fevers. It took many courses of antibiotics for him to finally resolve the infection, and almost a year for him to feel truly well.