HOSPITAL ACQUIRED INFECTIONS


Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Lawyer Representing Injured Plaintiffs Nationwide
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Hospital Infection Lawsuits

investigating hospital negligence & delayed infection diagnosis cases

At any given time, according to the US Department of Health, about 1 in 25 inpatients have a hospital acquired infection, most related to negligent hospital care.

Every day, approximately 40,000 harmful hospital errors occur, many of which are preventable, and the result of staff negligence. Hospitals should be the safest place for sick or recovering patients, however many have become notorious for spreading deadly infections.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 30 percent of patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) get an infection during a stay.

Particularly dangerous hospital-acquired infections like MRSA, C. Diff, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia are very common, and may claim the lives of patients. In 2020, hundreds of Americans will die from hospital-acquired infections each day.

Hospital-acquired infections are far too prevalent and not only a great burden to patients, but also the nation’s health care system. Changes must be made and hospitals and staff must be held accountable for the damage caused by poor procedure and hospital standards.

Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati, Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyer who handles hospital acquired infection lawsuits based on an infection misdiagnosis or delay in diagnosis of a hospital acquired infection.

The Lyon Firm can assist plaintiffs find the answers to the important questions that have gone unanswered and seek compensation for medical expenses and other damages.  

Infections Linked to Hospital Negligence

It should be common sense that medical staff would always observe basic health hygiene and routinely wash their hands. However, hands are the most common vehicle for transmission of bacteria, and “horizontal transmission” of infections among hospital and nursing home patients.

Hospital-acquired infections can be caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal pathogens. The most common infections are bloodstream infections (BSI), pneumonia (VAP), MRSA-Staph infections, urinary tract infections (UTI), C. Diff. infections and surgical site infections (SSI).

MRSA-Staph Infection

MRSA (Staph) is an infection caused by a type of Staphylococcus, a bacterium now resistant to a wide list of antibiotics. MRSA is highly associated with infections acquired exclusively in medical facilities like hospitals or nursing homes.

Hospital-acquired MRSA infection is most commonly contracted through direct contact with contaminated hands, contaminated patient linens, and poorly sanitized surgical instruments. MRSA can cause severe problems, such as blood infections.

Nursing negligence and unsanitary conditions are preventable risk factors that can result in malpractice lawsuits. Infections can be serious issues for already vulnerable patients and hospitals have a duty to provide a standard of care.

Surgical Site Infection

Surgical site infections account for about 15 percent of hospital-acquired infections, numbering up to 400,000 cases of infections per year in the U.S. The majority of surgical site infections result from microbes invading a surgical wound at the time of operation.

Most surgical site infections involve MRSA-type bacteria species. Contributing factors to an infection may involve improper hair removal, skin preparation, operating room sterility, antimicrobial choice, bowel preparation regimens, and operative technique. Any failure to follow safe hygienic procedure may result in a dangerous infection.

C. Diff. Infections

Many unsuspecting patients taking antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection end up with a more serious infection. In some hospital patients, antibiotics can trigger a potentially life-threatening infection caused by a type of bacteria called clostridium difficile (C. diff.)

C. diff. is estimated to cause almost half a million annual infections in the United States. The infection can cause many complications, including colitis, a serious inflammation of the colon. In many cases, victims have died within a month of initial diagnosis.

Catheters & UTI Infections

Catheter-associated UTIs are the most common hospital-acquired infections, and result in almost 450,000 cases per year in the United States. Patients admitted for longer hospital stays are at great risk, with the risk of infection increasing by about 5 percent each day a patient is fitted with a urinary catheter. Many UTIs originate from the hands of health care workers during placement or maintenance, infecting patients with various bacteria.

Careful catheter removal and change is necessary to prevent infection. Training staff is essential, and must be directed at sterile insertion technique and maintenance practices. Insertion should always include sterile gloves. About 25-75 percent of UTIs are estimated to be avoidable.

Protocols for removal are generally simple, though studies show fewer than 10 percent of hospitals use catheter removal reminders. Many institutions are also without a monitoring system for urinary catheter duration of use.

Your doctor should carefully consider whether a catheter is necessary and should remove a necessary catheter as soon as possible. To prevent urinary tract infections, doctors and nurses should consider the following:

  • Catheters are put in only when necessary and they are removed as soon as possible
  • Properly training persons inserting and removing catheters using sterile technique
  • Cleaning skin in the area where the catheter will be inserted
  • Considering external catheters in men
  • Nurses must always clean their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching a catheter
  • Avoid twisting or kinking a catheter
  • Keep the bag lower than the bladder to prevent urine from backflowing
  • Empty the bag regularly

Most cases of CAUTI include bacteria or fungi entering the urinary tract through the catheter, causing the infection. Clean insertion, removal techniques, and daily catheter care can help lower the risk of a CAUTI. Catheters should not be left in longer than needed. There are several ways infection can occur during catheterization, including the following:

  • A catheter may become contaminated upon insertion
  • A drainage bag may not be emptied often enough
  • Bacteria from bowel movements may get on the catheter
  • Urine in the catheter bag may flow backward into the bladder
  • Catheters may not be regularly cleaned

Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a pneumonia caused by poor mechanical ventilation and intubation malpractice. VAP is estimated to cause complications in over 50,000 patients per year in the United States.

Up to a quarter (25 percent) of mechanically ventilated patients develop VAP with aerobic gram-negative bacilli, accounting for the majority of infections. Fungi and Viruses have also been known to cause VAP in some patients.

Most alarmingly, these incidences of infection in medical facilities are increasing year-on-year. Complications of hospital-acquired pneumonia may include lung abscess and thoracic empyema, and in some cases require surgical intervention.

Ventilators can save lives, but may also increase a patient’s risk of acquiring pneumonia while environmental germs enter the patient’s lungs. To prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia, doctors, nurses are urged to heed the following suggestions:

  • Keep patient’s bed raised between 30 and 45 degrees unless other medical conditions disallow this position
  • Monitor patient’s ability to breathe, and take them off of ventilator as soon as possible
  • Clean and disinfect hands before and after touching the patient or the ventilator
  • Clean the inside of the patient’s mouth on a regular basis
  • Clean or replace equipment between ventilator uses

VAP and other hospital-acquired infections are typically treated with antibiotics. Specific antibiotics used depend on which bacteria are causing an infection. The healthcare provider should be decisive and prompt about treatment and communicate with the patient and family members.

hospital acquired infections

Hospital Acquired Infections Risk Factors

Several factors can lead to health care-associated infections, several of which are preventable if hospital management and medical staff take the proper precautions. Some common risks include the following:

• Prolonged use of invasive devices
• Prolonged use of antibiotics
• High-risk procedures
• Immuno-suppression and other unidentified underlying patient conditions
• Insufficient application of isolation precaution
• Misapplied hygienic procedures
• Understaffing
• Overcrowding
• Poor application of basic infection control measures
• Ignoring procedure
• Absence of procedure and policy

Most Common Hospital Acquired Infections

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks and identify infections that patients are likely to acquire in hospitals and other healthcare settings. According to the CDC, hospital patients will have a good likelihood of developing at least one of the following hospital acquired infections:

Hospital Acquired Infection Lawsuits

With a thorough investigation, and testimony from experienced medical experts, the Lyon Firm can determine if a patient’s damages are the result of medical malpractice, and the negligence of a hospital and its personnel.

Liability needs to be established, and records may show an unacceptable standard of care. If it is determined that a hospital-acquired infection was preventable, and medical professionals were negligent, the victim will have a good chance to recover costs and damages in a claim.

Aside from the damages to victims and their families, hospital-acquired infections put a strain on the entire healthcare system and state budgets. The majority of these infections are preventable, and health care systems and individuals must be held accountable to make proper changes.

Hospitals and other health care facilities are required to adhere to practices of sterility, but when medical staff fails to follow safe procedures, and fails to protect patients, they must be held responsible for their medical negligence in hospital acquired infection lawsuits.

Modern healthcare facilities can save lives, though at the same time are associated with numerous dangerous infections, some of which are linked to Medical Negligence, and medical devices like catheters or ventilators. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) include central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

The CDC publishes yearly reports to help patients and doctors better understand hospital health risks and hopefully to push accountability in the field of healthcare.

HAI surveillance systems like the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and the Emerging Infections Program Healthcare-Associated Infections Community-Interface (EIP HAIC) have been established to help assess hospital acquired infection prevention progress. The Healthcare associated Infection Data Reports published show the following annual statistics:

  • Estimated total number of infections in hospitals: 721,800
  • Pneumonia: 157,500
  • Gastrointestinal Illness: 123,100
  • Urinary Tract Infections: 93,300
  • Primary Bloodstream Infections: 71,900
  • Surgical site infections from any inpatient surgery: 157,500
  • Other types of infections: 118,500

Hospitals and healthcare professionals must take control and prevent healthcare associated infections. Research shows that when healthcare facilities, as well as individual doctors and nurses are aware of infection problems and take steps to prevent them, rates of infection can decrease by more than 70 percent.

Preventing HAIs in Ohio is possible, but it will take a conscious effort by clinicians and healthcare facilities. Injuries, however, like hospital acquired infections still occur every day, and the only way to recover compensation for medical costs and other damages may be to file a claim against those legally responsible.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon reviewing hospital acquired infections
A Voice for Those who have suffered 

Why are these cases important?

 When management or individuals fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties. Medical malpractice lawsuits improve the quality of healthcare by holding physicians and hospitals responsible when they fall below a professional standard of care. 

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Questions about Medical Malpractice

What is a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Hospitals, medical staff, nurses and doctors are responsible for providing proper patient care. When management or individuals fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties.

Without medical malpractice laws, medical mistakes would go without consequence, patients would be uncompensated for preventable injuries, and medical providers would have less incentive to improve the medical system to prevent future injuries.

Despite the reports discussed above, frivolous claims brought by medical malpractice attorneys and runaway juries have been blamed as causing a medical crisis. There is no medical malpractice crisis, it is simply propaganda created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and large insurance companies to pollute the American jury pool and change the law in a manner that is favorable to them and adverse to the average American. And sadly, it has worked.

Currently, 90 percent of juries side with the physician over the patient at trial. As a result, insurance companies are bolder than ever and refuse at times to settle even the most meritorious of cases knowing that the chances of the patient finding a fair and impartial jury is extremely low, especially in more conservative parties of the country such as Hamilton County, Ohio.

What is a “Never Event” in Hospital Care ?

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 required that conditions be identified that (a) are costly and occur at high rates, (b) are assigned as cases to the Diagnosis-Related Group, and (c) could have ultimately been prevented with appropriate care. These hospital-acquired conditions occur as negligence on the part of hospital staff and often result in a multitude of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Conditions that meet the three requirements for identification:

What if a hospital makes me an offer directly?

Many hospitals and physicians are taking proactive approaches to resolve viable medical malpractice claims by approaching patients who do not have legal counsel. The “family meeting” presentation will include deterring patients from seeking legal counsel. This is a very concerning development in the course of medical liability and risk management.

We strongly advise patients not to engage in “family meeting” settlement negotiations without an experienced Cincinnati medical malpractice lawyer present. Hospitals and physicians have lawyers who are specialized in medical malpractice claims advising them on how to approach the case, and it is only fair that the patient is afforded the same benefit of qualified counsel.

The “family meeting” practice of settling hospital negligence cases without an attorney does not benefit the patient in most cases, but almost always benefits the negligent hospital.

Do not be deterred by a hospital representative implying that the case will be compromised if you seek counsel. While attorney fees will need to be paid, those costs should not be a deterrent. The Lyon Firm adopts a lower contingency fee structure and offers hourly rates for cases that can be resolved without litigation.

If the parties wish to resolve the matter, having qualified counsel on both sides is beneficial to the process. The goal should be a settlement where both parties are satisfied, not a case where the hospital pays substantially less than the fair value of the claim.

There are numerous issues that need to be considered before settling a medical malpractice case, and you should know what the fair value of the claim is before accepting a settlement.

The hospital knows the fair value having been involved in other cases. You as the patient should work with counsel who has successfully worked on other cases and can advise on the appropriate risk of future litigation and settlement value.

If a hospital is approaching you or a family member about a settlement without a Cincinnati Medical Malpractice lawyer, please call (800) 513-2403 for a free consultation.

Why hire the Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

 Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical Negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence cases.  The cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world

Learn About the Medical Malpractice Legal Process

Video: Investigating Medical Malpractice

The process for investigating a medical malpractice claims involves the following steps: 

  1. Gather a full and informed history from the family addressing their concerns and thoughts on what went wrong; 
  2. Gather the complete medical records including film studies, if any; 
  3. Review of the records and applicable medical literature by attorneys; 
  4. Review of the records by a qualified physician practicing in the relevant areas on standard of care and causation; 
  5. Final consultation with expert to review opinions;
  6. Signing of Affidavit of Merit by the Expert before case filing, for cases where medical malpractice is identified. 

Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law. 

FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE BOWEL OBSTRUCTION

WRONGFUL DEATH

(Cincinnati, Ohio):  Confidential settlement for a family due to a wrongful death. An emergency room physician failed to recognize the common symptoms associated with bowel obstruction and prescribed a contraindicated medicine of GoLytley.  The patient died at home the day of discharge after taking the medication. The case against the emergency room physician was resolved by settlement following extensive discovery. The settlement was paid to the spouse and surviving adult children for the loss of their mother. While no amount of money could bring back their mother, the case provided answers and held the hospital accountable.

FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE BREAST CANCER

$910,000 Settlement.

(Cincinnati, Ohio):   Joe Lyon was second chair in a case involving the failure of a physician to promptly communicate a positive breast cancer result to a patient. As a result of the delay, the cancer progressed from in situ carcinoma to stage 3B with lymph node involvement. The treatment required mastectomy and radiation/ chemotherapy rather than a simple excision. The case settled after extensive discovery. The defense argued: “the patient should have called the physician.” The settlement provided recovery for suffering through a misdiagnosis and the loss of a spouse and a mother. While the settlement cannot bring this wonderful woman back, it helped her family move forward with life’s challenges and encouraged  future accountability.

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