Most of us probably think of the emergency room as a place to get help, not a place to make your troubles worse -- and it's true that many lives are saved there. But there are risks to visiting an ER. In even the cleanest, most efficient hospitals, infectious diseases lurk in waiting rooms, procedure rooms and every space in between.
Recent data shows that health care-associated infections among children and adults in non-ICU (intensive care unit) areas of U.S. hospitals are as high as 1.2 million annually [source: Klevens, et al]. And the latest figures reveal that there are 99,000 deaths each year from these types of infections [source: DeNoon]. Because statistics take into account many different areas of hospitals, we know that infections developed in emergency rooms are only part of these figures. Still, the nature of emergency care -- rapid treatment of a cross-section of patients -- makes the ER an area of risk when it comes to infectious diseases.
On the following pages, you'll learn about the possible illnesses you can pick up in an emergency department. Just don't let this newfound knowledge deter you from visiting the ER if you're experiencing a life-threatening condition or injury. Seeking immediate treatment is always your best bet in such situations. And knowing what threats exist in a hospital might help you navigate your way through your visit more safely. Keep reading to find out more about these potential health hazards.