Harming or Healing?
October 10, 2007
The minute you’re admitted into the hospital, you confront a disturbing paradox: Most hospitals aren’t particularly healthy places. As a patient, you’re likely to encounter toxic chemicals, eat lousy food, breathe unhealthy air and suffer stress triggered by an often-dismal and alienating environment. Even worse, you may find yourself at the mercy of drug-resistant “super bugs” or overworked staff members who make mistakes — all in a place that’s supposed to help you heal. It’s enough to make you sick. And sometimes it does.In the U.S. alone, an estimated 2 million people a year contract infections in hospitals, and nearly 100,000 are expected to die from them this year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although such statistics are deeply troubling, hospitals around the world also contribute to a subtler but equally insidious threat: They expose patients and staff to a host of substances and practises that can harm their health.