Cincinnati, Ohio Hospital Negligence Lawyer and Medical Malpractice Attorney Reviewing Hospital acquired infection lawsuits for plaintiffs nationwide
At any given time, according to the US Department of Health, about 1 in 25 inpatients have an infection related to 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) 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.
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 Infection 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
• Poor application of basic infection control measures
• Ignoring procedure
• Absence of procedure and policy
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 liklihood of developing at least one of the following hospital acquired infections:
- Epidural Abscess
- C. Diff.
- Post-surgical infection
- Hospital-acquired urinary tract infection (HAUTI)
- Ventilator Infection (VAP)
Catheter UTI & Hospital Infection
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
Ohio Hospital Negligence
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.
Hospital Acquired Infections
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
Hospital Infection Lawsuits
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.
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 in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, a medical malpractice attorney, and he will help plaintiffs answer critical questions regarding hospital acquired infection lawsuits.