When you go to the hospital for medical care, you expect to get better. At the very least, you don’t anticipate that receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions will cause you to contract a new infection.

Yet, hospital or healthcare acquired illnesses (HAI) are a serious enough problem that they’re one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States (responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths per year).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 20 hospitalized patients contracts an HAI, totaling more than 1.7 million healthcare associated infections in the U.S. each year. These infections cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year and cost thousands of patients their lives. HAIs may be caused by any infectious agent, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, as well as other less common types of pathogens. Certain medical devices and procedures carry a higher risk of infecting patients just as certain patients (children, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems) have a higher risk of becoming infected.

Kentucky Personal Injury AttorneyKentucky medical malpractice attorney Billy Johnson has been successfully litigating personal injury cases since 1998. If you or someone you love has gotten an infection in a hospital or has died from an illness caused by the negligence of a hospital, call the Johnson Law Firm at 606-433-0682 or fill out our online form for a free evaluation of your situation and your potential for receiving financial compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Types of Hospital Infections

HAIs encompass all clinically diagnosed infections that are connected with a patient’s healthcare that are not related to the reason that brought the patient to seek medical help in the first place. Interestingly, more than 80 percent of all HAIs can be traced to four specific types of infections:

  • Surgical site infections (SSI) – The risk varies according to the location of surgery on the body, with colon surgery carrying the highest risk. SSIs arise from unsterile operating environments and affect around 291,000 Americans each year.
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) – caused by catheters placed in the body, with the risk increasing the longer the device is inserted. CAUTIs are the most common type of HAI and harm over 449,300 people in the U.S. annually.
  • Central venous catheter–related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) – occur when a specialized catheter is inserted in a major vein to give medications and fluids or for dialysis access. Over 92,000 patients contract CRBSIs every year.
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) – Annually, unclean ventilator equipment sickens more than 52,500 people in U.S. hospitals who require mechanical ventilation through an endotracheal tube or tracheostomy.

Attention is also increasing on preventing the transmission of Clostridium difficile (a bacteria which causes severe diarrhea after exposure to antibiotics) and of bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that are resistant to antibiotics.

Prevention: Controlling Infections in Hospitals

Infections do not have to be an inevitable hazard of hospitalization. There are several simple measures that clinicians can take to help keep patients safe.

The most important measure that can help prevent all healthcare associated infections is also the easiest – washing hands before and after seeing each patient.

More specifically, SSIs can be prevented by administering appropriate perioperative antibiotics, using a hair-removal method other than shaving at the operative site, and maintaining appropriate perioperative glucose control. CAUTIs can be prevented using skin antisepsis at insertion, using proper aseptic technique for maintaining the catheter and the drainage bag, and promptly removing nonessential urinary catheters. CRBSIs can be prevented by taking maximal sterile barrier precautions at the time of central venous catheter (CVC) insertion, using chlorhexidine skin antisepsis at the CVC insertion site, avoiding the femoral site for nonemergency CVC insertion, and promptly removing a CVC that is no longer essential for care. VAPs can be prevented by implementing semi-recumbent positioning of the patient’s bed and daily assessment of the patient’s readiness for weaning them from sedative administration.

Requesting Legal Help

Pikeville Kentucky LawyerThe Pikeville, KY hospital infection lawyers of the Johnson Law Firm provide experienced legal representation for people who have been injured as the result of medical mistakes. If you have lost a loved one or had a loved one get seriously ill as a result of a hospitalization, take the time to discuss your case with us by calling toll-free at 606-433-0682 or filling out our online form. Schedule your free initial consultation today and let us help you.