Hospital Acquired Infections: How Safe are our Hospitals?

Hospital-acquired infections, also known as nosocomial infections, are contracted by patients in healthcare institutions such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient surgical centers, and physicians’ offices. Transmission of infections may also occur to employees of these facilities. Infections are caused by pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They are spread to patients, often through invasive treatments, unsafe needle practices, blood transfusions, and medical device placement. Examples of high-risk procedures that can transmit pathogens include the placement of central lines, urinary catheters, ventilator usage, and all types of surgical interventions.

The parts of the body that are most prone to nosocomial infections include:

  • Ear, nose, and throat
  • Respiratory system
  • Skin and soft tissue
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Bone and bone joints
  • Central nervous system
  • Reproductive tract

According to the National Institute of Health, one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, nosocomial infections are the most common adverse event in the healthcare system. The emergence of multi-drug resistant organisms has heightened the risk. In 2017, the World Health Organization published a list of twelve different families of antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in health care facilities. Proactive sanitation measures in hospital settings and prompt management of infected patients can significantly lower the risk of morbidity and mortality.

Consequences of hospital-acquired infections range from lengthening a patient’s recovery time to death. Typically, infected patients require more intensive treatment regimens and extended hospital stays. The increased costs of care, combined with a patient’s loss of wages and pain and suffering, is a financial and emotional burden placed on patients and their families. These costs affect the healthcare system throughout our nation.

Legal Liability for Hospital Acquired Infections

When a patient’s infection causes harm or death, the potential for liability exists if it results from the facility, physician, or the employee’s medical negligence. In a lawsuit, the evidence must establish the infection was preventable and the facility or the providers did not follow parameters to comply with the medical standard of care. In the legal arena, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff must have evidence that the defendant had a legal duty to provide care and breached that duty. They must provide proof that the damages, such as medical bills, long-term rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more, are the direct result of that breach.

In investigating a claim, qualified legal, medical, and scientific experts can examine the environmental conditions and the treatment rendered. Specifically, unhygienic facility practices and the overuse of antibiotics can be factors indicating a breach of duty. Other examples are improper infection control procedures, improper use of antiseptics, improperly sterilized equipment, and rooming infected patients with non-infected patients. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in 31 hospital patients suffers from healthcare-acquired infections every day.

Contact the Badgley Law Group for Expert Representation of Medical Malpractice Claims

Jeffrey Badgley is an Orlando personal injury attorney and a board-certified Civil Trial Lawyer, which is the highest recognition by the Florida Bar in the area of trial law. His legal team has the depth of knowledge to negotiate settlements and favorable verdicts for those that have suffered harm from hospital-acquired infections. Let us review your situation’s facts to determine if there are grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

At the Badgley Law Group, we will vigorously fight for compensation for the losses and injuries you have suffered. Call our Orlando, Florida office at 407-606-5603 for a free consultation today with our trusted and caring medical malpractice lawyer.

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