Death by complication
The hospital infection threat

About this project

Every year, an estimated 200,000 Californians fall victim to an infection acquired in a hospital. For a surprisingly large number, the infection is life-ending. About 12,000 people die every year from hospital infections in California, more than three times the number of people who die from auto accidents in the state. Even so, these deaths often occur in the shadows, with little or no public accounting. Are hospitals and government regulators doing all they can to stop or limit the spread of hospital infections? Some critics say the answer is no. In California, the state's Department of Public Health comes in for particular criticism, in part because it has been slow to implement legislation passed in 2006 and 2008 addressing the problem.


Anatomy of a hospital infection

Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and more severe symptoms. In the past few years, states have been reporting an upsurge in C. difficile infections with more severe cases and more deaths. AT RISK: At least...

How you can help stop hospital infections

An estimated 2 million U.S. hospital patients get infection annually. Patients are being urged to do their part to help stop infections.

Infection lurks in hospital wards, and it kills

This story first appeared in the Sacramento Bee

State slow to implement anti-infection measures

California legislators passed some of the nation's toughest anti-infection laws in 2006 and 2008 to assure that patients are protected from dangerous bacteria in the hospitals that are supposed to heal them.

California declines national infection-fighting program

Dr. Peter Pronovost spearheaded a program that sharply reduced potentially deadly infections at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and has created a much-acclaimed model that has since spread to 46 states in the nation.

UC Davis Medical Center struggles with infections

Hospitalization too often puts patients at risk. They can contract infections from the insertion, maintenance and removal of urinary catheters as well as central line catheters that are placed in large veins to make it easier to administer medicine...

Legislators disappointed in state's infections performance

Key California legislators who oversee the state’s health agencies said Wednesday that they are disappointed in how slowly the state Department of Public Health has acted on landmark laws designed to protect hospital patients from potentially deadly...

State issues improved guide to hospital infections

California health officials Friday unveiled new hospital-acquired infection rates for hundreds of private and public hospitals and vowed to become a national leader in making that data public for consumers to review. The barrage of reports appears...

Editorial Posts

Hospital infections too deadly to ignore

As statutes go, Nile's Law should have been a snap to implement.


Deborah Schoch

Deborah Schoch

Senior writer Deborah Schoch reports on hospitals and health care delivery, nursing homes, environmental health and food. Her most recent articles have examined patient safety andhospital infections. She was a founding writer with the Center’s pilot project. Schoch spent 18 years as a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, covering public health and the environment. She was a member of the Times newsroom teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news in 1992 and 1994. Schoch graduated from Cornell University and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1999-2000, studying science, law and policy. Her work at the Center has won several honors, including first place in the 2010 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, from the Association of Health Care Journalists. She sits on the AHCJ board’s Right-to-Know Committee, which works to improve access to public health records.

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