According to a report published by the Alliance for Aging Research, approximately 1.7 million Americans acquire an infection while in the hospital. Of those patients, nearly 99,000 die from the hospital-acquired infection. If you or a loved one recently acquired an infection while in the hospital, nursing home, or even the doctor's office, you might be wondering if there is any legal recourse for your pain and suffering. Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about taking legal action after suffering from a hospital-acquired infection:
What Are Some Common Hospital-Acquired Infections?
When patients enter a hospital, it is not uncommon for them to contract an infection. This is because, despite their best efforts, doctors, nurses, and the other staff at the hospital, nursing home, or the physician's office aren't able to completely stop the spread of several common germs.
There are several common hospital-acquired infections, including:
- Clostridium difficile – C. Diff is a staph infection that is commonly found in hospitals and can lead to severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including cramping and diarrhea.
- Urinary tract infection – A patient will commonly suffer from a urinary tract infection if their catheter isn't cared for properly or if it is left in for too long.
- Meningitis – Meningitis is an infection of the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It is often spread through needles.
- Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – Otherwise known as MRSA, this nasty infection is extremely deadly because it is resistant to most antibiotics.
- Sepsis – Sepsis is an infection of the blood that can lead to complete organ failure and death.
- Infections at a surgical site – When a surgical site is improperly cared for, it can lead to a potentially life-threatening infection.
These are only a handful for the several types of hospital-acquired infections that a patient, nursing home resident, or simply a person getting a checkup at the doctor's office can suffer from.
Do I Have a Case?
Once again, hospital-acquired infections are very common, and you won't necessarily have the ability to file a lawsuit against your doctor, the nursing home, or a hospital. In order to file a successful lawsuit against your doctor or hospital, your attorney must prove negligence.
For example, imagine you came into the hospital to have a simple procedure, and the instruments used during the surgery weren't properly sterilized. This led to you contracting a hospital-acquired infection, such as MRSA or C. Diff. The infection caused you to miss several weeks of work because you were hospitalized for much longer than you would have been, had you not acquired the infection.
This is only one example of how hospital infections are spread through negligence. When you enter a hospital, the staff is expected to maintain a certain level of cleanliness and sterilization. For instance, hospitals are expected to enforce cleanliness standards, such as frequent hand washing, sterilization of instruments and surfaces, filters in their HVAC system, and even access to clean water.
If the hospital did not maintain a sterile environment, if the doctor is simply negligent and not performing their duties in the same fashion as a competent doctor would, or if waste products are not disposed of properly, the hospital, nursing home, or the physician can be held liable for the pain and suffering caused by your hospital-acquired infection.
Hospital-acquired infections are extremely common, and in most cases, they are caught quickly and treated with the proper medications. If you were the victim of negligence, and that negligence led to a hospital-acquired infection, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Don't hesitate to contact an attorney right away to see if you have a case against your doctor or hospital. Check out websites like http://medilaw.com to learn more.