Naturally, the goal after being admitted to a hospital is to get better and return home. However, some people acquire serious bacterial infections that can prolong a hospital stay or, in some cases, can even lead to death. According to the World Health Organization, seven out of every 100 hospitalized patients in developed countries will acquire at least one hospital-associated infection (HAI).
What Causes Hospital-Associated Infections?
Even the most sophisticated hospitals leave patients at risk of exposure. Primary reasons include:
- Prolonged and inappropriate use of antibiotics and invasive devices (like catheters)
- High-risk and sophisticated procedures
- Immuno-suppression and other severe underlying patient conditions
- Insufficient application of standard (washing hands) and isolation precautions.
The Facts Surrounding MRSA
One of the biggest issues in hospitals and healthcare facilities in America is a bacterial “superbug” known as MRSA – methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is resistant to several antibiotics, and there are several ways it can be acquired in a hospital setting. It can appear around surgical wounds, catheters, or feeding tubes. People with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk of contracting a MRSA staph infection. Devices like catheters, ventilators, and feeding tubes need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of germs. A wound appearing around the incision point in surgery is known as a surgical site infection (SSI). Potential infections can be due to unsanitary conditions during the procedure itself or while wound care is being administered – cleaning the wound and changing bandages. MRSA is not harmful unless it’s inside the body. If it invades the bloodstream, urinary tract, or lungs, it could require a long recovery period while heavy doses of specialized antibiotics are administered.
Was the Infection Caused by Medical Malpractice?
There’s an inherent risk of infection while hospitalized, but there is a threshold to determine if medical malpractice was the cause. Doctors are not miracle workers and do not succeed 100 percent of the time. However, if a doctor or healthcare worker doesn’t perform at the levels of professionalism and competence expected, medical malpractice could be the issue.
In medical cases, patients can invoke a legal doctrine called “res ipsa loquitur,” which, translated from Latin, means “the thing speaks for itself.” If you can show a result that occurred only due to someone’s negligence, then the burden of proof shifts to the defendant to prove that they were not negligent in handling your care. A potential medical malpractice case can be further muddled due to the fact that many HAIs do not present themselves until after a patient is discharged from the hospital. Medical malpractice is a murky legal area – and rightfully so. There is a careful line to straddle where a doctor did his job and a bad thing still happened, or the doctor didn’t do his job properly and it led to a bad result.
If you had an experience where a hospital stay led to you contracting a hospital-borne infection, you need to contact an attorney to see if medical malpractice was at play. Stewart & Stewart Attorneys is the home of the best medical malpractice attorneys in the state of Indiana, and they will be happy to discuss your situation with you and let you know if you have a case. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you – call 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.