Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), also referred to as nosocomial infections, occur frequently. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1.4 million people around the world are suffering from an HAI at any one time.
In the United States, roughly 9.2 out of every 100 patients acquire a nosocomial infection, according to Healthline. Some HAIs can be quite serious and potentially life-threatening.
“Many of these infections are preventable. Efforts are underway to expand surveillance and to identify and implement effective prevention programs,” explains the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP).
Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
Urinary tract infections associated with catheters are the most common type of HAI. Below are additional types of HAIs patients commonly contract.
- Surgical wound infections
- Bloodstream infections
- Respiratory infections
- Genitourinary infections
- Gastrointestinal infections (Gastroenteritis is the most common nosocomial infection in children)
- Skin and soft tissue infections, such as open sores (which can grow and lead to systemic infection)
- Endometriosis and other reproductive organ infections following childbirth
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HAIs: Causes and Risk Factors
A lot of factors come into play when a patient contracts an HAI. There might be environmental factors, the patient may be more prone to infection, or resistant bacteria may be present because of the industry’s overuse of antimicrobials.
Other factors that can influence the development of HAIs include:
- Contaminated instruments, objects, and substances
- Poor use or maintenance of catheters and ventilators
- Patient/health care worker contact
- Contaminated air conditioning systems
- Congested hospitals (beds near one other)
- Improper sterilization and disinfection practices
- Reusing syringes and needles
“Most infections acquired in hospitals today are caused by microorganisms which are common in the general population, in whom they cause no or milder disease than among hospital patients (Staphylococcus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci, enterococci, Enterobacteriaceae),” according to the World Health Organization.
When a healthcare practitioner is negligent in their duty, whether it is due to inattention or poor maintenance practices, the patient can suffer. HAIs can progress quickly and result in significant health risks, especially if they are not treated in a timely manner.
The Importance of Addressing HAIs
The above statistics justify additional prevention measures in the healthcare setting. Other rising factors make the issue even more pressing.
- HAIs significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and worldwide.
- A rising number of patients may have compromised immunity (rising population of youth and older adults).
- There are new microorganisms being discovered daily.
- Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is becoming a serious concern.
The ODPHP has issued a plan, National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections: Roadmap to Elimination, to help reduce the instances of HAI. The plan establishes proactive preventive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of HAIs in a variety of medical facilities, from acute-care hospitals to long-term care facilities.
While the long-term effects of the plan may take years to affect HAIs, the plan provides a professional standard for preventing healthcare-associated infections. If your medical provider does not comply with these standards and you are injured as a result, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries.
When the Medical Professionals Are at Fault
Hospital and medical staff non-compliance with the best HAI prevention practices are a major contributing factor to the high number of HAI instances each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the protocols established in the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare Associated Infections has helped to significantly reduce HAI infections since it was enacted in 2009.
With an effective plan in place for HAI prevention, healthcare facilities are more accountable for HAIs. If a healthcare worker or facility is at fault for a patient contracting an HAI, and they did not meet the standards for care established by the CDC and other healthcare authorities, the patient may have grounds to sue for damages.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for a Hospital-Acquired Infection
If you or someone you love has suffered a preventable infection due to insufficient HAI prevention in a medical facility, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. Doctors and other medical practitioners in Florida have a duty to provide a certain standard of care to all patients.
When health care workers fail to maintain a standard of care, they can be held liable for injuries or illnesses that occur as a result. Damages you can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
- Hospital bills associated with HAI treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Compromised mobility
- Reduced cognitive abilities
- Chronic disability
- Reduced quality of life
Even if the HAI is treated successfully, the patient may experience long-term negative effects for years to come. An attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases can examine your case and help you decide on your next steps.
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An Attorney Can Assist With Your Hospital-Acquired Infection Claim
Filing a medical malpractice claim in Florida can be complicated, especially if you are recovering from severe illness or injury. Per Florida Statutes § 766.102, you must prove that the medical provider caused you to contract an HAI through a breach of their professional standard of care.
Such negligence can be proven using the following evidence:
- Medical records
- Health care provider policies and procedures
- Video and photo evidence
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony regarding professional standards of care
An attorney who understands Florida malpractice law will know which kind of evidence will best support your claim and how to obtain the necessary documentation and testimony.
The Right Evidence Is Critical
Using the above evidence, your attorney will build a compelling case that demonstrates who is at fault, establishes the severity of your injuries, and validates the financial value of your losses. In addition, your lawyer will:
- Identify the at-fault parties, including individuals and organizations
- Submit a demand letter to the at-fault parties for your losses
- Negotiate with the parties responsible for your injuries
- Take your case to court if a settlement is not achieved
When you work with an attorney who knows Florida law, you can stop worrying about legalities and concentrate on improving your health.
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Contact Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers to Discuss Your HAI Case
If you acquired an infection from a hospital or other healthcare setting, you might be entitled to compensation. You’ll want to discuss your case with a medical practice attorney to determine your eligibility and legal options. For legal counsel in Florida, you are invited to call our medical malpractice attorneys at Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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