Unfortunately, mistakes made by medical professionals in hospitals can lead to serious infections, frequently known as hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if medical staff is made more aware of infection risk and takes steps to prevent some of the most common HAIs, infection rates could decrease by up to 70%. To better understand how a HAI could mean medical malpractice, we’ll discuss what an HAI is, how a patient might acquire one, and what their associated risk factors are.
Defining Hospital-Acquired Infections
Because hospitals see many injured and sick people, cleanliness and sterilization should be a top priority. However, HAIs occur when a patient contracts an infection unrelated to her illness, injury, or other diagnosis while in hospital. Common HAIs include:
- Central line-associated bloodstream infections
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
- Surgical site infections
- Clostridium difficile infections
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia, which is an infection of the bloodstream
How HAIs Occur
Medical staff—including doctors, nurses, and other clinicians—must meet a certain standard of care when treating or diagnosing patients. If treatment, cleanliness, communication, or another form of care falls below this standard, patients are put at risk. The following are some reasons behind why HAIs occur:
- Lack of clear communication. Medical staff must ensure that patients understand all diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions. Failing to do so can result in terrible infections and further need for hospitalization.
- Lack of hospital cleanliness. Hospitals see many people with infections, viruses, and other maladies on a daily basis, so they have a duty to clean HVAC systems, keep surfaces clean, change linens frequently, and ensure sterilization of medical tools and devices.
- Surgical mistakes. Medical staff and surgical teams have sterilization protocols they must follow to prevent serious infection. Sterilized hands and clean gloves, materials, tools, IVs, and surgical clothing are absolutely necessary.
- Prolonged hospital stay. Unfortunately, the longer a patient stays in a hospital, the greater his chance is of acquiring an infection. Healthcare professionals should closely monitor those whose hospital stays are ongoing for signs of infection.
- Weakened immune systems. Those who require hospitalization or even a simple visit to the doctor’s office are more susceptible to acquiring infections. Certain steps, such as wearing a mask and sterilizing contaminated surfaces, are key in preventing deadly infections.
When You Need Legal Counsel
If you believe you acquired an infection in a hospital because of a mistake made by medical staff, you may need a lawyer. The experienced team at Tavss Fletcher can assist you and your case by showing that you were made ill, that the hospital made some sort of mistake, and that the mistake directly caused your infection. To learn more about how we can help, call 877-960-3441 today.