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Can You Sue for Hospital-Acquired Infections?

Hospital-Acquired Infections and Negligence

When you have a hospital visit, you have every right to presume that you are in safe and competent hands, and that you will receive a high standard of care.

Whether due to surgical neglect, negligence on behalf of the hospital staff, or a multitude of other factors, the reality is that too many patients go to a hospital for health care, and end up developing an infection. Hospital-acquired infections can happen in any healthcare setting: acute care hospitals, dialysis centers, walk-in clinics, the list goes on.

When an infection occurs, it is too often because of a preventable mistake. If you or a loved one has suffered a hospital-acquired infection, call the hospital negligence lawyers at Regan Zambri Long for a free case review.

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What Are Hospital Acquired Infections?

As the name suggests, a hospital-acquired infection is an infection that a patient develops while under hospital care. These are caused by viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens and, if not caught in time or treated correctly, they have the potential to be fatal.

Common Types of Acquired Infections

Hospital-acquired infections generally fall into the category of nosocomial infections. These are defined as infections that were not present when the patient first entered the hospital or medical care facility but instead were acquired while receiving healthcare. These can include everything from superficial skin infections to infections that permeate a patient’s organs. Some of the most common types of hospital-acquired infection include:

Respiratory infections:

  • Respiratory tract infections can take multiple forms. There are lower respiratory infections, which can also be known as hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP). There are also upper respiratory tract infections, which can cause pharyngitis or rhinorrhea.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia

  • This is another form of respiratory infection, but one that is specifically caused by using a ventilator. Ventilator-associated pneumonia can occur in patients that have been using a ventilator for more than 48 hours and often presents as fever and respiratory distress.

Surgical site infections

  • After surgery, exposed surgical sites are highly prone to infection. A surgical site infection that develops in hospital settings can occur just on the skin, muscle or tissue, or even inside an organ.

Staph infections

  • Staph infections occur most commonly on the skin or inside the nose. They are highly contagious. A staph infection will often present as boiling blisters.

Urinary tract infections

  • These infections involve any part of the urinary tract, including the bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys. Urinary tract infections commonly occur when a patient is using a catheter.

Bloodstream infections

  • Critically ill patients tend to be at the highest risk for bloodstream infections. Bloodstream infections are defined by fungal or bacterial microorganisms in the bloodstream.

Infection from central lines

  • Central lines are catheters placed into a patient’s large vein. They are larger and longer than an IV and can be used to give a patient fluids, blood, or medicine. However, central line malfunction can also cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream, leading to infection and potentially severe illness.

Hospital-acquired infections are often preventable, but if hospital staff fail to respond urgently and appropriately, things can spiral out of control. In the face of medical negligence, what was once preventable and treatable can quickly become a potentially life-threatening infection such as Sepsis.

You Can Sue for a Hospital for an Infection

If you or a loved one has experienced one of the hospital-acquired infections discussed above, you may be wondering what your legal rights and options are. Do you have the right to file a lawsuit against the hospital or facility that gave you this infection?

The answer to this question might be yes. As with all medical malpractice cases, it’s only possible to make a definitive judgment by knowing the details of the claim. But there are many instances in which an injured patient may be able to sue.

In many cases, when a patient acquires an infection, it is an entirely preventable situation that could have been avoided and was due to a mistake or medical negligence. In a case like this, the patient very likely has the right to sue. When you enter a hospital, you presume that all the healthcare providers you interact with will uphold a high standard of care and provide you with safe and satisfactory medical care. If this is not the case, the medical staff instead fails to uphold a reasonable standard of care; they have breached one of their legal duties.

Hospital-Acquired Infections as Medical Malpractice

Before taking legal action over a hospital-acquired infection, it’s important to understand what umbrella this falls under in the legal world. Generally, something like this could potentially be considered medical malpractice. But what exactly does that mean?

Medical malpractice is any instance in which a doctor or healthcare professional deviates from the standard of care and exhibits negligence. In other words, given the same information and a similar set of circumstances, would other doctors generally make the same decisions that the doctor in question did? If the answer is “no”, then it’s likely the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care, and the results could be considered medical malpractice.

You may be entitled to compensation if you believe you experienced negligent medical care while staying in any healthcare facility. Contact our medical malpractice lawyers and we will help to determine if you have a valid medical malpractice claim.

Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case

Proving negligence in any personal injury case, including hospital-acquired infections, requires a few steps. They are as follows:

There was a duty of care:

In a hospital-acquired infection case, this would mean proving that a doctor-patient relationship existed. In other words, was a formal relationship established in which the doctor agreed to treat the patient, perform the necessary surgical procedure, etc. If so, a duty of care existed between them, in which the doctor implicitly agreed to uphold the standard of care when treating the patient.

That duty of care was breached:

Next, you must prove that this duty of care was breached via the doctor exhibiting some form of negligence. This would entail showing that the healthcare providers involved made a mistake or acted negligently and failed to uphold the standard of care. For instance, they did not properly sanitize their medical equipment or didn’t correctly monitor patients after surgery.

That breach directly resulted in harm to the claimant:

Once you’ve shown that the relevant healthcare professional acted negligently and therefore breached their duty of care, you must show that this breach directly harmed the patient. In the case of a hospital-acquired infection, this means showing that the healthcare provider’s negligence directly led to the patient’s infection. Medical records are a valuable piece of evidence here.

That harm caused them damages:

Lastly, you must show that the harm caused (in this case, the patient’s infection) directly resulted in calculable damages for the patient. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.

Call the Washington, DC  Hospital Negligence Lawyers at Regan Zambri Long

If you or a loved one was harmed by a hospital-acquired infection, you may be able to sue for compensation.  Call our DC hospital negligence lawyers at Regan Zambri Long for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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