When Hospital Infections Become Medical Malpractice

Spending time in the hospital is supposed to improve your health. However, for too many people, getting in-person healthcare can actually make their health worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 31 hospital patients develop healthcare-associated infections (HAI) on any given day.

While it’s almost impossible to prevent hospital infections entirely, they can be reduced. Every year, thousands of hospital infections occur because medical professionals are negligent. If you’ve gotten an HAI, the hospital could be liable for its impact on your health. Keep reading to learn what HAIs are, how to tell if they’re the result of malpractice, and how to hold your healthcare team accountable for their negligence.

What Are Healthcare-Associated Infections?

An HAI is defined as an infection that a patient only acquired because they were receiving healthcare services in person. These infections are unpleasant at best, and deadly at worst.

There are several types of HAIs that patients can acquire in hospitals that are uncommon outside of them, such as:

  • Central Line Blood Infections: A central line is a long-term alternative to IVs. These lines are placed in veins leading directly to your heart. If they are not kept meticulously sterile, this can lead to systemic bloodstream infections since bacteria can be rapidly spread around the body.
  • Surgical Site Infections: Surgical sites must be carefully sterilized before, during, and after the surgery. Improper sterilization or sterile technique can lead to a surgical site getting infected. These infections may affect the skin, muscle, or organs around the incision, and can require additional surgeries to resolve.
  • Catheter UTIs: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are painful conditions that affect the bladder and potentially the kidneys. Poorly sterilized and maintained catheters can lead to UTIs that may advance to kidney infections. Long-term catheterization can also lead to UTIs under negligent care.
  • Ventilator Pneumonia: People who rely on a ventilator to breath must be carefully monitored by their healthcare team or they are at risk of developing pneumonia. Ventilator pneumonia occurs when germs enter the lungs through the ventilator tube, and can significantly increase patients’ risk of mortality.
  • MRSA: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a “superbug” that resistant to many of the most common antibiotics used in hospitals. MRSA is common in healthcare settings due to its ability to withstand antibiotic treatment. Healthcare professionals must take care to physically sterilize surfaces and wash their hands, or they may negligently transmit MRSA to their patients.

All of these illnesses can delay your recovery time, cause extra health complications, or even become deadly. If you’ve gotten sick during a hospital stay, you could be at risk of serious health consequences.

Is Your Hospital Infection Malpractice?

Many HAIs are cause by medical malpractice. While you’re receiving in-patient care, your healthcare team is responsible for helping you remain hygienic and keeping your medical equipment or surgical incisions sterile. If they neglect to follow the correct procedures, they put you at risk of contracting an HAI. This is considered malpractice, since your healthcare team is being negligent in your care.

The most common reasons that a hospital infection might be considered malpractice include:

  • Improper sterile technique: Sterile technique is the term for the collection of best practices healthcare professionals are supposed to follow to keep medical tools and surgical sites clean. Violations of sterile technique include not sterilizing surgical instruments correctly, not maintaining a sterile field during surgery, or failing to wash hands before interacting with a surgical site. All of these issues can lead to serious infections.
  • Lack of hygiene: Full sterilization isn’t always necessary, but hygiene is always important. If your medical team doesn’t keep your central line or ventilator clean, they are failing to keep you clean and putting you at risk of developing an infection.
  • Incorrect use of medical equipment: Intrusive equipment is one of the most common reasons people develop HAIs. If your healthcare team doesn’t replace your catheter correctly or leaves you on a ventilator for too long, you’re more at risk of getting sick.

If any of these situations sound familiar, you may be a victim of medical negligence and malpractice. If so, you deserve to hold the hospital accountable for its impact on your health.

Fighting for Malpractice Compensation

If you think you’re suffering from an HAI caused by medical negligence, you deserve to receive compensation for the cost of the extra medical care you need, as well as your additional pain and suffering. To make a medical malpractice claim, you’ll need:

  • Copies of your medical records: Your medical records are important documents that give a clear timeline of your health. You can request copies of your medical records and chart from a specific hospital stay to support your argument that an infection was caused by the hospital.
  • Evidence of negligence: You should also document examples of negligence by your healthcare team. Keep track of the care you receive independent of your medical records, especially when you aren’t receiving appropriate care. For instance, track when your catheter is changed, how often your surgical sites are cleaned, and whether you receive your medication on time. This can fill in gaps in your medical records if your healthcare team is particularly negligent.
  • Testimony from expert medical witnesses: An expert witness is someone with expertise in your case. These experts can support your malpractice claim by providing clear and specific explanations of how HAIs like yours happen.

Make Your Medical Malpractice Claim with the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC

You shouldn’t be forced to live with the consequences of a negligent healthcare-associated infection. You can hold neglectful healthcare professionals accountable for their actions by filing a medical malpractice claim for your HAI.

The experts at the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC, have the knowledge and skills to support your claim. We have decades of experience fighting medical negligence and winning compensation for victims of malpractice. You can schedule your consultation today to learn more about how we can help you fight for the compensation you need to recover and move on with your life.

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