Are Hospital-Acquired Infections a Sign of Malpractice?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Daniel J. Sherry Jr. with Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C..
Hospital-acquired infections or “healthcare-associated infections” (HAIs) occur when a patient who is already in the hospital receiving treatment for an injury or illness acquires a new infection from the surrounding environment. While hospital infections cannot be entirely staved off, they can be largely prevented by proper sanitation and consistently sterile conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hospital-acquired infections cause or contribute to as many as 75,000 deaths each year, with more than 720,000 patients acquiring HAIs annually.
While most medical professionals are highly-trained and committed to the health and wellbeing of their patients, negligence can occur on occasion, either on the part of the hospital administration, doctors, medical staff, or even medical device manufacturers who provide contaminated medical equipment to a facility. The damages resulting from a hospital-acquired infection can be painful, expensive, and even fatal, so if you suspect that an HAI occurred due to unclean or contaminated conditions, it’s important to explore your legal options for recovery as well as your physical health.
Common types of hospital-acquired infections include but are not limited to:
- Staph infection, including MRSA
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Acinetobacter baumannii
- Stenotrophomonas maltophilia
- Hospital-acquired pneumonia
- Urinary tract infections
If you or a loved one contracted one of these or another infection while being treated in a hospital or medical environment, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the resulting damages, which can be extensive.
Hospital-acquired infections can result in additional pain as well as a need for additional medical care.
Hospital stays are expensive. For patients who acquire an infection while being treated for a pre-existing condition, this means that the medical bills for the original treatment can be doubled, tripled, or more as a result of the need for the additional treatment. HAIs may also require the injured party to miss more work than planned, or may require a loved one to take time off work in order to help care for them.
These financial damages are significant, and yet the physical pain and suffering a person endures as a result of the infection is no less important. Infections can be tedious, painful, and extremely dangerous, and the patients who contract an infection due to negligence should receive compensation for these non-economic damages as well.
Finally, if a patient’s death was caused or contributed to by an HAI, the family may be eligible to receive compensation for not only their loved one’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, but also for the loss of care and companionship, income if the deceased was a primary wage earner, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
Medical malpractice attorneys can find out if an HAI occurred due to negligence.
Medical malpractice attorneys focus on identifying negligent care providers and holding them accountable for any damages they cause. These attorneys are able to demand evidence that may not be available to the average person, and can apply the law to prove when, where, and how a provider was negligent in allowing the infection to occur.
If hiring a lawyer seems financially out of the question, especially on top of the pre-existing expenses, it may help to note that most personal injury attorneys including medical malpractice lawyers typically offer free consultations and work on contingency; this means that clients do not have to pay for their services unless and until they win their case.
To learn more about hospital-acquired infections, or for help investigating a claim of your own, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney in your area.