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Medical Malpractice Common Cause of Hospital Infection

March 24, 2014

Serious infections like sepsis are commonly caused by hospital negligence. A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that nearly 48,000 patients per year suffer infections after entering a hospital with an associated additional cost to patients that is estimated to exceed $8 billion per year. Tight infection controls within a hospital can prevent the spread of serious infections, such as sepsis, a dangerous blood infection that may spread quickly. Patients also may suffer staph infections that cause kidney damage or even a flesh eating bacteria. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine estimates that the five most prevalent hospital borne infections account for nearly $10 billion a year in additional health care system costs.

When a patient develops sepsis or other infections after being hospitalized, many times it is viewed as a form of medical malpractice. Sepsis is a serious infection that results when bacteria overwhelms the body's immune system. An infection that leads to sepsis can begin anywhere in the body and frequently occurs at locations where incisions or punctures are created in the course of hospital medical treatment. Common examples include IVs, surgery sites, surgical drains and bedsores. There can be many causes of sepsis which include:

  • Inadequate cleaning of medical equipment
  • Improper sanitation practices
  • Other hospital negligence

Government acknowledgement of the preventable nature of the problem is illustrated by the policy of denying Medicare payments for some of the medical costs associated with "preventable complications" like infections. While this may be a step in the right direction to promote proper anti-infection procedures, some health care providers simply code around these penalties as opposed to improving infection control measures inside the hospital.

A person who is suffering from sepsis may experience such a dramatic drop in blood pressure that they go into shock. Critical organs and body functions also may be impaired by sepsi,s causing permanent injury and even death. If diagnosed and treated promptly, patients can recover fully from sepsis. However, delays in diagnosis or treatment often result in severe medical complications and even avoidable fatalities.

Many patients presume that the risk of suffering a preventable infection in a hospital is astronomically small. The reality is that many people who are treated in hospitals and nursing homes suffer infection-related complications that lead to more serious illness and health risk than the ailment that landed them in the hospital in the first place. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in every twenty patients treated in U.S. hospitals will suffer some form of infection during their stay in the hospital. Recent studies indicate that as many as half of these infections are preventable.

If you or someone close to you has suffered serious injury or you have lost someone you love because of an infection contracted during treatment in a hospital, you may have a right to financial compensation. The failure of health care professionals and hospitals to implement appropriate anti-infection protocols often constitutes a form of medical malpractice.

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.