New York Hospital Infection Attorneys

Hospital Negligence

Four out of every 100 hospital patients in the U.S. will pick up a hospital-acquired infection, also called a healthcare-associated infection (HAI). These infections can cause serious health complications and, in some cases, death.

Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to their patients, and that includes keeping all surfaces and equipment clean and sanitary to reduce the risk of spreading infections. If you  believe that you have an HAI, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC to learn more about how we can help.

Types of Infections

Infections come in many forms, ranging from mild to lethal. However, they are almost always preventable. Here are a few of the most common types of HAIs:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections
  • Central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)
  • Pneumonia
  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Surgical site infections
  • Clostridium difficile infections
  • Urinary tract infections (especially catheter-associated urinary tract infection).

Risk Factors for Infections

Some patients are at a higher risk for infections than others. Certain practices also lend themselves to higher rates of infection. Here are a few, per the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion:

  • The use of catheters (bloodstream, endotracheal, and urinary)
  • Surgical procedures
  • Injections
  • Health care settings that aren’t properly cleaned and disinfected
  • Communicable diseases passing between patients and healthcare workers
  • Overuse or improper use of antibiotics.

Patients with poor immune systems are at greater risk for infections. Elderly patients also face an increased risk of being infected. The length of time you stay in the hospital, the people you encounter and your location within a hospital are all factors. For example, a person is more likely to get infected while in an intensive care unit than they are in other parts of the hospital.

Do You Show Signs of an HAI?

Healthcare-associated infections may become apparent during a stay at the hospital or in the hours and days that follow treatment at a medical facility. Symptoms vary from one type of infection to another, but these are a few common signs:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Coughing
  • Problems while urinating, such as burning sensations or blockage
  • An irritated wound, which may become inflamed, tender or discharge liquid.

Where do Infections Happen?

Healthcare-associated infections can happen at any point in the healthcare process. They are most common in hospitals, including ICU, emergency rooms and surgical departments. But they can also occur in other settings, including ambulances, end-stage renal disease facilities and long-term healthcare facilities. Any area that is contaminated with bacteria or other toxins can be host for an infection, which is why medical professionals are taught the importance of sanitizing all surfaces in their facility.

How HAIs Impact a Patient’s Health

One survey found that, in 2011, around 75,000 patients with HAIs died during a hospitalization.Even when not deadly, infections can still have serious implications for a patient’s health. These infections can cause further injury and illness and worsen an existing medical condition. They can lead to expensive tests and treatments, missed time from work and loss of work capacity. In short, a hospital-acquired infection can have an incredible impact on a patient’s life, including physical, mental and financial consequences.

How Healthcare Professionals Can Do More to Reduce HAIs

The number of people occupying a hospital at any given time makes the spread of infection a very real danger. However, there are steps that hospital staff can take to combat the possibility of infectious disease. A failure to do so can lead to serious illness or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that up to 70 percent of HAIs can be prevented by taking proper measures in medical facilities.

The hospital infection attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help confirm the origin of infection and determine if the hospital failed to take the necessary steps to prevent it. Here are a few precautionary measures that a hospital staff can take:

  • Hospital staff must be familiar with all infection-control protocol. They must be comfortable and efficient in implementing control measures if a situation calls for it.
  • Hospital equipment must be kept clean. Surgical equipment must be sterile. Hospital staff should be trained to spot unclean equipment and keep all tools and rooms thoroughly clean.
  • Hospital staff must also keep their hands clean. Unclean hands can transmit contagions, but advanced and routine handwashing can help curb the person-to-person transfer of infection.
  • Antibiotics should be prescribed to patients susceptible to infection.
  • Patients with autoimmune diseases should be diagnosed and placed in a properly secure room. Extra care should be taken with these patients.

If you believe that negligence on the part of a hospital’s staff has created an unclean situation and you have suffered an infection because of it, you have the right to file a claim. Doctors, nurses, and all medical professionals are obligated to maintain hospital cleanliness, and if they fail to meet this obligation, they should be held legally liable to provide for the costs suffered by the patient.

Contact Kaplan Lawyers PC

At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we’ve seen many of these cases. If you are unsure whether your infection was caused by hospital negligence, contact us for a free consultation. If we are not able to prove that negligence on the part of the hospital staff caused your infection, there is no fee for our legal services.

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