Can You Sue for a Hospital Acquired Infection?

Infections in a hospital are not uncommon. In fact, they are one of the leading causes of patient deaths in the United States. According to recent data, 1.7 million patients will acquire an infection from a hospital stay each year – and 99,000 of those patients will die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infections come in numerous shapes and sizes – and some are even resistant to antibiotics.

What is a Hospital Acquired Infection?

Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are any infections that occur during a hospital stay and are not directly related to the patient’s overall health or current diagnosis. If an infection occurs within 48 hours after admittance, it is typically labeled as an HAI. This is because of the wide array of bacteria and viruses that are found in a hospital setting. Even the cleanliest of hospitals will have some sort of contamination due to the sheer volume of people seen in their facilities.

Risk Factors for HAIs

Infections are acquired in three different ways, based on three layers of risk:

  • Patient Risk – This is when the patient’s stay is longer than usual or the patient has a severe illness that makes them more prone to acquiring infections.
  • Organizational Risk – This involves the cleanliness of the hospital or clinic, including their filtration systems, patient bed contamination, cleanliness of their water supply, and sterility of medical devices.
  • Latrogenic Risk – This involves the care provided by professionals overseeing the patient – including nurses, physicians, and caretakers. If these individuals fail to sanitize or transfer an illness directly to the patient, they are liable.

Common Patterns Seen in HAIs

There are certain patterns seen in HAI cases in the United States. These patterns help point attorneys and patients in the direction of those responsible for causing the HAI. These patterns can include:

  • Lack of Informed Consent – Sometimes a patient is not informed of the potential risk for infection, or the patient doesn’t inform their physician or their own risk. For example, a patient is prone to staph infection but fails to tell their care provider, and therefore measures are not taken to ensure they are not infected.
  • Delay in Treatment – Hospitals could be responsible for an HAI if they delay diagnosis or treatment of an infection, and especially if that infection causes further harm or spreads.
  • Surgical Neglect – Surgical patients have a particularly high risk for contracting HAIs. That is why it is imperative that hospital staff follow proper sanitization procedures. When a patient is not cared for during the procedure, such as when they are given contaminated blood products, unsanitized equipment is used, or space is left where bacteria can collect, the surgeon and facility could be liable for that patient’s contraction of an HAI.
  • Failure to Disinfect – All hospital equipment must be properly sanitized before being used on another patient. When a hospital fails to sanitize or disinfect equipment – even ultrasound or examination equipment – they are liable for any HAIs that result because of it.

Speak with an Attorney Regarding Your HAI

Not all infections acquired in a hospital setting are considered malpractice. That is why it is important that you speak with an attorney regarding your particular case. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group today at 702-222-9999 or fill out an online contact form to get started.