Patients Risk Deadly Hospital Acquired C Diff Infection
Hospital patients risk contracting serious infection of the Clostridium difficile (C. Diff.) bacterium, simply by making contact with beds or linens in medical facilities throughout the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has repeatedly stressed the importance of routine sanitizing and infection-control procedures, and have labeled the C. Diff bacteria an urgent public health threat.
Hospital acquired C Diff infections are linked to higher death rates and higher stresses on health services, yet hospitals and other medical institutions have failed to properly address the issue, putting almost any patient at risk of a severe infection.
C. difficile infection is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections, and one of the more dangerous, causing a potentially life-threatening form of diarrhea. In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated there were a half a million C. Diff. infections, leading to nearly 30,000 deaths, most within a month of initial diagnosis.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati hospital negligence and Ohio medical malpractice attorney with experience in injuries and deaths due to hospital acquired C diff infection. Mr. Lyon has represented plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of medical negligence, wrongful death and injury claims.
C. Diff. Infection Spreads in Unsterilized Rooms
Recent studies published by the American Medical Association (JAMA) conclude that patients using hospital beds are at risk of contracting C. Diff. infection from previous infected occupants. The study explains that “C. diff spores are extremely hardy,” and hospitals are failing to sufficiently clean rooms and bed linens, and the C. Diff. outbreaks are likely to continue as long as medical facilities fail to find a solution to the public health issue.
In hospitals and nursing homes, the infection should be considered preventable as C. difficile primarily spreads on contaminated hands and gloves, cart handles, beds, bedside tables, toilets, sinks, stethoscopes, and thermometers. Spores from C. difficile bacteria are spread to surfaces and objects when people who are infected fail to wash their hands properly. The bacteria spores can persist in a room for weeks or months.
Which Patients are at Highest Risk of Infection?
Although any hospital patient could be at risk of infection, people most at risk of C. difficile tend to be older, and have existing chronic conditions. High antibiotic exposure is also a strong risk factor for infection. C. difficile infection is most commonly associated with time spent in healthcare facilities where a higher percentage of people carry the bacteria.
The known risk factors for patient infection include:
- Antibiotic exposure
- Gastrointestinal surgery
- Extended stay in healthcare facility
- Advanced age
Symptoms of C. Diff Infection
In severe cases of infection, people tend to be severely dehydrated and may require hospitalization. Some people may carry the C. difficile bacterium but never show symptoms. They may, however, still spread the infection to more susceptible patients.
The most common symptoms of C. difficile infection include the following:
- Abdominal, swelling, cramping and pain
- Increased heart rate
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Complications of C. difficile infections may include the following:
- Kidney failure
- Toxic megacolon—an enlarged or ruptured colon requires emergency surgery
- Bowel perforation—a perforated bowel can spill bacteria into the abdominal cavity, leading to a life-threatening infection
- Pseudomembranous colitis (PMC)
Legal Action for Victims of Hospital Acquired C Diff Infection
The CDC has stated that healthcare facilities should monitor C. difficile infections and continually reassess recommended practices and strategies for infection control. If strategies are consistently implemented, hospitals should be able to improve infection prevention, and reduce the large number of infections seen each year in the United States.
Studies have identified the common risk factors that trigger hospital-acquired infections and outbreaks, though hospital management and staff have not yet provided a solution for the ongoing issue, putting every patient at risk. By filing a claim against a healthcare facility, the entire healthcare institution will be forced to take responsibility for unsafe environments, and will be forced to improve patient care in the future.
Legal Action Following Hospital Acquired C Diff Infection
If you or a loved one has suffered from a hospital-acquired infection, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding hospital acquired C Diff infection.