Hospital-acquired infections, also known as nosocomial infections, are infections that are acquired in a hospital or other healthcare setting when patients are admitted for the treatment of some unrelated condition, but ultimately develop some sort of infection.
Hospital infections are transmitted when doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers do not practice correct hygienic procedures regularly.
The result of these poor hygienic procedures is unsterile medical devices and surgical equipment, and an unsanitary environment for patients. Believe it or not, poor hygiene practices are still very prevalent in hospitals throughout the United States, as data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proves. According to the CDC, the estimated number of hospital infections in U.S. hospitals was approximately 1.7 million, which contributed to the death of over 98,000 patients.
The most common type of hospital infection acquired is urinary tract infection, affecting approximately 36% of all patients with hospital infections. This is followed by surgical site infections, which affect approximately 20% of patients with hospital infections, and bloodstream infections and pneumonia, which affect 11% each, respectively.
The lawyers at Abbott Law Group firmly believe that hospitals could, and should, be doing much more to prevent and combat hospital-acquired infections. If you believe you contracted an infection while receiving treatment in a hospital or some other healthcare setting, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Abbott Law Group today to discuss your legal options.
How Hospital Infections are Perpetuated
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers working in hospitals have a professional duty to treat patients with sterile medical instruments and provide patients with a sanitary environment in which treatment is carried out. However, healthcare providers are failing in this professional duty at an alarming rate and patients continue to contract hospital infections as a result.
While infection used to be considered an unavoidable risk of receiving medical treatment in a hospital, it has been demonstrated through scientific studies and real world implementation that having stricter sanitation and sterilization protocols and procedures in all hospitals can significantly reduce the number of patients contracting hospital infections.
Hospital-acquired infections can be reduced and even completely prevented in a number of ways, including:
Thorough and frequent washing of hands between the treatment of patients;
Use of alcohol or antiseptic rubs by medical personnel before and after contact with patients;
Proper sterilization of surgical instruments such as scalpels and drills;
Proper sterilization of medical devices such as artificial hips and knees, heart valves, pacemakers, and pain pumps;
Proper sterilization and sanitation of the hospital environment including operating rooms and tables, curtains, floors, and scrubs of the staff;
Wearing of gloves and aprons to provide a protective barrier for medical personnel.
Often times, stricter sanitation and sterilization protocols are not implemented in hospitals as a cost-cutting measure; however, evidence shows that the medical community is paying much more annually to treat hospital infections than it would to prevent them from happening. According to the CDC, the annual cost of treating these preventable hospital-acquired infections is estimated to be between $4.5 billion and $11 billion each year. Regardless, the lawyers at Abbott Law Group contend that the failure to implement sanitation and sterilization protocols within the acceptable standards of the medical community amounts to medical negligence, and the hospitals who fail in this regard should be held legally liable.
Types of Hospital Infections
According to the CDC, hospital-acquired infections are commonly contracted due to the many types of invasive devices and procedures used in modern healthcare to treat patients and help them recover, such as catheters and ventilators. Some of the most common infections contracted as a result of the use of unsterile instruments and unsanitary conditions in invasive procedures include:
Staph infections, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA);
Bloodstream infections, which can include hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV, tuberculosis, and SARS;
Sepsis, another type of bloodstream infection, which can lead to the failure of multiple organs and death;
Catheter-assisted urinary tract infections, which is the most common type of hospital-acquired infections;
Surgical site infections (SSI), which are often the result of surgical errors and the failure to properly sterilize surgical equipment;
Ventilator-assisted pneumonia, which is a serious lung infection that occurs in people using unsterile ventilator machines.
The lawyers at Abbott Law Group have over thirty years of experience in the areas of personal injury and medical malpractice, including hospital negligence.
If you have experienced an injury as a result of unsanitary conditions or unsterile equipment in a hospital, you may be legally entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
If you contracted one of the infections listed above or any other infection you believe was acquired while receiving treatment in a hospital or some other healthcare setting, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Abbott Law Group today for a free case evaluation.