Hospital-Acquired Infection Lawsuit
Hospital-acquired infections are common problems for patients that require hospitalizations. While receiving care and treatment for their medically-diagnosed issue, they may contract an infection from the hospital and treatment setting.
Typically, nosocomial infections (infections originating in a hospital) are treated quickly and adequately. However, when they are untreated or undiagnosed, they can cause serious harm to a patient. If this occurs, medical malpractice lawsuits can be pursued.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for families who have been injured through medical negligence. Our law firm provides immediate legal advice and representation to ensure our clients receive the maximum compensation they deserve.
Call our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What Is a Hospital-Acquired Infection?
A hospital-acquired infection, also known as a nosocomial infection, are infections that can develop when patients are being treated in a hospital setting. These infections are caused by unsanitary conditions or negligent medical care in the facility where the patient is treated for an unrelated diagnosis.
When hospital infections occur, doctors need to properly diagnose and treat the infection to prevent danger or severe harm to the patient. If the infection goes too long without medical intervention, it can result in sepsis, septic shock, or other life-threatening issues.
A hospital infection can lead to severe injury or even become deadly. Wrongful death and other medical malpractice claims can be filed against the responsible negligent medical professional and the medical facility.
The Responsibility of the Medical Community
Healthcare professionals must protect patients against the risk of any dangers while in their care, involving more than just medical treatment. The hospital staff adheres to strict handwashing and hygiene practices to minimize risking patient infection and the spread of illness through the facility.
Negligent healthcare facilities still exist, leading to hospital-acquired infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 31 hospital patients will develop at least one hospital-acquired infection on any given day.
Causes of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Three main risk factors cause hospital infections to occur in a clinical setting.
Patient Risk Factors
Some hospital infections can be developed from factors related to the patient.
Patient risk includes:
- Duration of a patient’s stay
- The severity of illness or injury
- A compromised immune system that is unable to protect the patient against infection
Patients with an extended stay in hospital settings are more prone to developing a hospital infection while in the care of a healthcare provider. When patients have a weakened immune system, they may have more difficulty fighting off common infections. These factors can put the patient’s life at risk.
Organizational Risk Factors
These factors relate to the cleanliness and proper care of the treatment facility, including:
- Sterilization of medical equipment (patient beds), devices, and tools
- Adequate sanitization of facility surface
- Filtration of the water systems and HVAC system
- Sterile treatment procedures
Iatrogenic Risk Factors
Iatrogenic risk relates to any disease caused by medical treatment or a patient examination. These factors include the treatment of hospital staff and proper medical care and attention they provide.
Healthcare workers are responsible for practicing adequate and safe hygiene when working with patients. When care providers perform procedures, such as removing catheters or drawing blood, they must adhere to safety protocols and strict guidelines.
Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Healthcare professionals often use invasive devices and tools to provide quality care and access to minimally invasive treatments. These medical devices, tools, and equipment can introduce bacteria into the body. Instruments, such as catheters or ventilators, may lead to hospital-acquired infections.
There are a few types of infections that frequently occur in a hospital and treatment setting, such as:
- Central Line-associated bloodstream infections
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
- Surgical site infections
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
Infections need to be quickly diagnosed and promptly treated to prevent further patient harm and severe injury while under a doctor's care. When doctors suspect a hospital-related infection, they must act appropriately and respond rapidly.
How Doctors Should Diagnose and Manage Hospital-Acquired Infections
To protect patients from the harm of hospital-acquired infections, a healthcare provider should act responsibly and follow a strict protocol to identify the issue. Typically, identifying problems will prevent issues related to delayed diagnosis, leading to life-threatening issues and severe injury in the patient.
Doctors adhere to many protocols to diagnose and manage infections, such as:
- Close monitoring of the patient and their health issue
- Fluid resuscitation
- Administration of antibiotics
- Removal and replacement of medical devices
- Performance of blood cultures
- Lab testing of any medical devices
- Collection of a urine sample
While they treat any injured patients, they need to also continue practicing healthy hygiene. Practicing preventative techniques decreases the risk of adding more harm to the patient or spreading any bacteria to other patients.
Understanding Surgical Site Infections
Surgical site infections (SSIs) are some of the most common hospital-acquired infections that occur at the surgical site on the patient’s body. The patient’s infection is typically treated quickly with one or more antibiotics through intravenous administration. There are a few common types of bacteria that cause SSIs.
Many people do not know that they are carriers of this type of bacteria until it enters a surgical site. Once it enters the body, it can cause severe infections, like pneumonia. Once diagnosed, it is treated with antibiotics.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Another type of staph bacteria, MRSA, is more difficult to treat. Patients that develop MRSA infections cannot be treated with methicillin or any antibiotics in the penicillin family. Once it enters the bloodstream, it needs to be quickly treated with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection.
This bacteria is typically found in the gastrointestinal tract of a healthy person, but it can cause harm to patients undergoing treatments. It can enter through invasive procedures that involve using medical devices, like breathing tubes, urine catheterization, central lines, or IVs.
These infections can lead to life-threatening harm in patients when they are not diagnosed or treated for an extended period. As the bacteria gets into the bloodstream, it will rapidly spread. Severe infections can lead to organ failure, tissue damage, or sepsis.
The Dangers of Sepsis
If infections are left untreated, they can result in sepsis. Sepsis is when the infection spreads through a patient’s bloodstream, causing organ issues. It is a life-threatening response that requires emergency medical attention. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure or even death.
Symptoms of Sepsis
- Body-wide inflammation
- Elevated heart rate
- Elevated respiratory rate
- Elevated white blood cell count
Healthcare-related infections are one of the leading causes of sepsis. Once the infection spreads throughout the body, it can cause amputation, organ failure, tissue damage, and death.
A severe reaction to the infection, Septic shock, is a body-wide infection that causes dangerously low blood pressure. Once the infection spreads throughout the body, the patient will have more difficulty recovering.
According to the World Health Organization, sepsis accounts for almost 20% of global deaths. The organization also notes that healthcare-associated infections are among the most frequent causes of deteriorating medical conditions leading to sepsis.
When to Sue for Hospital Acquired Infections
Hospitals must follow protocols to maintain clean and sterile surfaces and equipment. Healthcare providers may have failed to adhere to the standards and practices to keep patients safe and healthy. If a medical malpractice lawyer can prove this, the hospital may be held liable.
Determining liability involves a closer look into specific circumstances around the infection, such as:
- Why the infection occurred
- Why it was not promptly or adequately treated
- How or if it could have been prevented
Once a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, an expert medical witness will help to determine the defendant’s liability for the infection. The witness will perform a thorough investigation to assess whether the hospital and medical staff complied with standard care and protocols throughout their treatment process.
Medical malpractice lawsuit related to hospital infections:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Delayed treatment
- Failure to diagnose or treat
- Failure to monitor patient symptoms
If medical negligence is proven, the patient can receive compensation for any related medical expenses to treat the infection, lost income, and pain and suffering. A medical malpractice lawyer understands the challenges of working to prove the liability of a hospital or medical professional.
Patients who suffer from hospital-acquired infections that result in life-threatening harm or damage should schedule a free consultation with a professional attorney. Understanding the legal perspective and asserting your rights can result in compensation for any pain, damage, or suffering.
Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney to Resolve Your Personal Injury Claim
Are you the victim of medical malpractice involving your hospital stay? If so, our personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, are legal advocates for injured victims harmed through another's negligence.
Call us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Our law firm accepts all medical malpractice cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures you pay nothing until we have resolved your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.