Of the 2 million people afflicted with acquired infections, approximately 90,000 of them die, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Acquired infections (also called nosocomial infections) include all infections that develop over the course of a stay in a medical facility and that are not associated with the condition for which the patient was admitted or diagnosed. Some times a patient will develop an infection while under medical care that leads to serious injury and even death.
WHY DO INFECTIONS OCCUR?
The overall annual medical cost of hospital-acquired infections (HAI’s) is 28 to 45 billion dollars per year in the U.S. These costs are based on the lengthened stay and additional tests and treatments required for patients experiencing infection. Infection control programs must be in place to prevent infection in any medical facility, but the programs themselves are costly. Sometimes care facilities do not create sufficient infection control programs due to their cost, and this brings considerable and preventable risk to the patients. Other times the program exists, but staff is not educated thoroughly regarding it or staff is not held accountable for following infection control procedures. All of these negligent actions can contribute to innocent patients acquiring infections during extended medical care.
Patients deserve safe, effective care. They should be able to trust that a hospital and its staff are doing everything in their power to ensure the timely and successful recovery of all patients, not just to prevent additional costs but because it is the right thing to do.
The sanitation procedures of a hospital and the hygienic practices of staff contribute to whether a patient will receive a hospital-acquired infection. Other factors that increase the likelihood of a patient developing an HAI include:
- Patient health: Patients who enter a hospital in a poor state of health will be at greater risk for infections due to their impaired defense system.
- Invasive procedures and devices: Invasive procedures (such as surgery) and devices (devices that enter the body in some way, such as catheters, surgical drains or intravenous lines) heighten the risk of infection by breaching the body’s skin defense.
- Treatment: Certain treatments will leave the patient vulnerable to infection by suppressing the immune system and undermining the body’s defenses. Other treatments such as antimicrobial therapy or recurrent blood transfusions can increase risk as well.
- Sepsis: One of the most dangerous infections is sepsis, which is a potentially deadly medical condition characterized by a whole-body inflammatory response caused by severe infection.
There is always risk associated with the treatment of an illness or injury, but infection is one of the most easily prevented dangers. Medical facility policies need to reflect the emphasis on infection prevention and each staff member needs to make sanitation a priority so that innocent patients do not become victims of infection.
If you or a family member are the victim of a hospital-acquired infection or sepsis, please contact our office and speak with a member of the firm. The applicable statute of limitations is likely already running, so timing can be critically important to your case. Contact us today for a free, no obligation, confidential legal consultation.
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Raynes Erickson, Attorneys at Law focuses its practice on the legal representation of clients who are victims of medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, or wrongful death. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and how our litigation team can help you receive the compensation you deserve.