Are Healthcare-Acquired Infections Unpreventable?

November 6, 2018

Every year, thousands of Americans go to hospitals, doctors’ offices, surgical centers, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings. They go to health care providers to get better, to recover, to improve their health. The expectation is that they will receive quality medical care that helps them return home safely and in better health than when they went to the provider. This is not always what happens, though. Many of these patients will acquire serious and complicated infections while attempting to get help. These infections can spread and create horrifying consequences for patients.

There are a lot of doctors’ groups and insurance lobbyists who would have you believe that infections are just a fact of life, an unpreventable problem that sick people should have to deal with. The fact is, however, infections are almost always preventable. If you are infected in a hospital or other healthcare environment, call David Aylor Law Offices today.

 

What is a “Never Event?”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlines a list of events that should never occur in a healthcare setting. These so-called “never events” are so named because they are conditions that by and large are preventable in a healthcare environment. Examples can include:

 

  • Leaving surgical instruments inside of patients

 

  • Falls or patient drops
  • Preventable bed sores
  • Communicable infections

 

 

 

How Are Infections Acquired?

There are various types of infections. Some spread by contact, others are airborne. Some are due to poor hygiene and some are transmitted by things like accidental needle sticks. A common cause of healthcare-acquired infections (HAI) is failure to isolate patients who already have infections. Another big cause is poor cleaning and disinfection protocols. Often staff, in a rush or out of apathy, fail to follow routine procedures to cleaning instruments and equipment. This can lead to serious infections and even fatalities.  

 

Examples of Serious and Deadly Infections

Patients can acquire infections that can spread very quickly. Here are a few of the bigger examples we see regularly in American facilities.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).  

This extremely difficult-to-treat infection can be fatal, especially to those with weakened immune systems.  

Clostridium difficile (C-Diff)

This infection is more common in nursing homes and acute rehab facilities, as it transfers from patient to patient quickly and attacks those who are already in a weakened state.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB)

This well-known infection is airborne and is rapidly transmitted in healthcare settings.

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Failure to change or replace old catheters and improper toileting care can lead to UTIs. Many patients coming out of surgery may have difficulty urinating, leading to UTI as well. All of these things are predictable and preventable in the vast majority of cases.

Sepsis

Untreated wounds and open sores can lead to septic infections. Once a person is septic, it is life-threatening and it should be treated as an emergency. A septic infection is lethal and, according to the Mayo Clinic, septicemia has a generalized 50 percent mortality rate. This is much higher, the older and sicker a patient is.

 

Fighting for Compensation After a Healthcare-Acquired Disease or Infection

If you developed a preventable infection or lost a loved one due to a healthcare-acquired infection, you have rights and may be entitled to significant compensation. Time is limited, so be sure to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. At David Aylor Law Offices, we make it easy and convenient to meet with an attorney at one of our offices here in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Call or stop by one of our offices today. Find us in Walterboro, Charleston, or North Charleston.

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