Hospital-acquired infections, or nosocomially acquired infections, are infections that patients get while in a hospital or medical facility. While common, they are preventable. Hospital-acquired infections are a serious issue that can have devastating consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 31 patients at any given time in a hospital has a hospital-acquired infection. Some of these infections are minor and easily treatable, but others can be life-threatening. It is important to understand the causes and consequences of hospital-acquired infections, as well as the importance of hiring an experienced medical malpractice attorney if you or a loved one has been affected by one.
Elements of a Hospital-Acquired Infection
Typically, for a patient’s infection to be considered a hospital-acquired infection, the following criteria must be met:
- The infection was not present before the patient went to the medical facility or sought medical care.
- The infection occurred in the medical facility where the patient sought or was receiving medical care.
- The infection occurred within 48 hours after the patient was admitted to the hospital or within three days after the patient was discharged when the patient did not undergo surgery. The infection occurred within 30 days after the patient underwent a surgical procedure.
Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
The most common types of hospital-acquired infections include:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Clostridioides difficile (C.diff) infection
- Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through catheters or other medical instruments and cause inflammation in the bladder or kidneys.
C.diff is an infection caused by antibiotic use which leads to diarrhea.
MRSA is a bacterial infection that's resistant to many antibiotics.
Pneumonia is an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi which affects the lungs.
Causes for Hospital-Acquired Infections
Hospital-acquired infections have a variety of possible causes, including:
- Inadequate sanitation procedures on the part of medical staff
- Improper handling or storage of medical equipment
- Failure to properly disinfect surfaces between patients
- Contaminated food or water supplies
- Poor communication between healthcare workers regarding patient care protocols
- Being understaffed often leads to rushed treatments which can increase the risk of infection
Consequences of Hospital-Acquired Infections
The consequences associated with hospital-acquired infections can be significant and long-lasting. Some patients may experience the following:
- Extended hospital stays due to additional treatments needed for their illness
- Physical suffering due to severe pain associated with certain types of infections
- Long-term disability resulting from weakened immune systems
- Emotional distress related to feeling helpless while hospitalized with an infection they did not expect nor plan for
In some cases, hospital-acquired infections may even lead to death—a tragedy no one should experience because medical staff members responsible for patient care did not take proper safety measures.
Atlanta Medical Malpractice
If you or someone you love has suffered from a hospital-acquired infection due to negligence on behalf of a healthcare provider, it’s best practice to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help protect your rights and seek justice against those responsible for your injury or loss. A qualified lawyer will help you understand your legal options so that you can make informed decisions about how best to proceed with your case—and hopefully receive compensation for damages incurred due to these preventable illnesses.
If you or someone you love has been injured or died due to medical negligence, let us fight for you. To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney from The Mabrey Firm, give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or contact us online.