Healthcare-acquired infections (HAI) are infectious diseases that patients catch while being treated in a hospital or other healthcare facility. These infections can be very dangerous and turn lethal quickly, as patients are often already not in good health when entering a hospital. Survivors may face long, difficult recoveries with powerful drugs and painful, repeated treatments that reduce their ability to function, and leave permanent scars or disfigurement.
Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors and maintains records on hospital-borne infections across the country. The CDC particularly monitors six types of infections, but two are becoming a severe danger in current healthcare facilities, including hospitals:
- Clostridium difficile (sometimes shortened as C. difficile or C. diff) infections
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections
Other types of infections that can be transmitted in a hospital can include diseases such as Norovirus, flu (influenza), pneumonia, meningitis, and different kinds of infections at the sites of hysterectomies, colon surgeries, and other procedures.
Infections Caused by C. difficile
According to the CDC’s latest available figures (based on data from 2014 and released in 2016), Texas hospitals may not be doing so well in managing C. diff infections. Hospitals across the state that report data to the CDC have seen a 16 percent increase in C. diff infections since 2013. This dangerous infection is caused by fecal contamination, and can lead to symptoms such as:
- Mild to severe abdominal pain and cramping.
- Watery diarrhea, three to fifteen times per day.
- Lack of appetite and weight loss.
- Kidney failure.
This dangerous infection has become more and more associated with healthcare environments in recent years, as more toxic and antibiotic-resistant strains have started appearing in hospitals nationwide. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
Infections Caused by MRSA
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a deadly strain of a common microorganism that’s often found on skin, and even inside the nose of up to one-third of the population. It normally causes no difficulty for a healthy immune system, but as with C. diff, strains that are extremely toxic and resistant to antibiotic treatment have been discovered in healthcare settings. This type of infection can attack at the site of a surgical incision, urinary catheter site, intravenous (IV) access point, a wound on the skin, or even an artificial joint after a procedure such as a hip or knee replacement.
An infection by MRSA can cause the following symptoms:
- Painful, red swelling on the skin that’s warm to the touch.
- The appearance of what looks like a pimple.
- A pus discharge from the area.
- A fever.
This type of infection can lead to an abscess that is deep, painful, and may even require surgery to treat by draining the infected fluid away. Any infected wound or surgical site accompanied by a fever is an emergency that needs medical care right away, due to the risk of the infection entering the bloodstream and attacking the entire body, and a systemic MRSA infection can cause organ failure and death if not treated.
Legal Help After Hospital-Acquired Infections
If you or someone you love has suffered from MRSA, C. diff, or another hospital-acquired infection, you may be able to seek compensation. While the hospital is not liable for every infection that happens after a procedure or surgery, there are certain factors for which the facility, doctors, or other healthcare personnel may be found responsible. Some of these factors may include:
- Improper instrument handling or procedural mistakes.
- Poor hygiene and a failure to wash hands appropriately.
- Failure to provide a clean, sterile environment for surgery.
- Failure to provide informed consent for interventions that have a high risk for infection.
- Misdiagnosis of an infection.
- Delay or failure to treat an infection.
If you think you may have a case, a medical malpractice attorney who has experience handling medical malpractice cases can help you with your legal options to pursue compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
Wayne Wright LLP is a Texas law firm with a team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys, and we’re ready to help you today. Contact us by phone or email to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal staff about your medical malpractice case.