Practice Areas

Hospital Acquired Infections

Doctors, nurses, and medical technicians at healthcare facilities have a professional responsibility to provide their patients with clean and safe hospital environments. While infection used to be considered an unavoidable risk of hospitalization, studies at various American hospitals and in other countries such as Sweden have demonstrated that the rate of hospital acquired or nosocomial infection can be dramatically reduced with the use of reasonable care to ensure cleanliness and with the enforcement of policies to promote sanitary conditions. In other words, hospital infection is preventable and avoidable.  Proper sterilization of medical instruments, hand washing by hospital staff, liberal use of antiseptic solutions, separation of infected patients from those with non-infectious conditions and other measures have been demonstrated to reduce the number of hospital acquired infections. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to prove negligence in handling a hospital acquired infection case which requires careful evaluation of medical records and hospital infection surveys. The evaluation may also focus on the post-operative care period if an infection is allowed to progress without diagnosis and early treatment to the point that it becomes a serious problem which may require the removal of hardware implanted in a surgery preceding the infection.

Pennsylvania recently became the first state to report on hospital acquired infections in hospitals throughout the Commonwealth.  According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, Pennsylvania Hospitals reported 19,154 hospital acquired infections and 2,478 deaths from hospital acquired infections in 2005. The Pennsylvania study focused on 4 major areas of hospital acquired infections:

Surgical Site

Urinary Tract

Respiratory System

Blood Stream Infections

 

It was reported that patients who acquired infections in the hospital spent almost 400,000 additional days in the hospital at an estimated cost of over $1 billion dollars. The study concluded that infections could be dramatically reduced through more vigorous infection prevention efforts in hospitals which would in turn significantly reduce medical costs, illness and mortality.

 

A hospital-acquired infection is any clinically diagnosed infection that is not associated with the condition that brought the patient to the hospital in the first place. Typically, an infection that appears 48 hours or more after your admittance into the hospital may be considered a hospital-acquired infection, though some such infections do not appear until after you have already left the hospital. If you believe that you have contracted an infection while in the hospital, contact the Locks Law Firm today.  A Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York medical malpractice and medical negligence attorney can review your case and help you recover compensation for damages.

 

Types of HAI

According to the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System (NNIS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several common types of hospital-acquired infections. Among the infections typically contracted by patients as a result of staying in a healthcare facility are staph infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections and surgical site infections.

Staph Infections and MRSA

Staph infections, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), most frequently occur among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems. MRSA, a type of bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics, commonly affects surgical hospital patients and elderly nursing home residents.

 

At the Locks Law Firm, our lawyers help victims who have suffered serious injury because of a health-care associated MRSA infection obtain fair compensation. If you have suffered from a hospital acquired infection, a medical malpractice attorney from our firm will happily evaluate your claim. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us today. Serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, a medical malpractice and negligence attorney from our firm can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) affects the urinary system, which is composed of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. A UTI can affect any of these individual organs, but it most commonly occurs in the lower tract of the system (the bladder and urethra) and is more likely to affect women than men. A urinary tract infection in the lower tract can cause significant pain and discomfort, as well as trouble regulating and controlling the evacuation of urine from the body. If the infection affects the kidneys, it can pose a significant risk to the person's health. The most common cure for a UTI is an antibiotic treatment, so if you are suffering from such an infection, it is important to seek medical help.  The failure to diagnose and promptly treat a urinary infection with antibiotics can lead to serious morbidity and mortality and may be the cause of a valid negligence claim.

Pneumonia

It is estimated that 53,000 Americans die every year from pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms. Those most at risk for pneumonia are the elderly, children, and individuals with weakened immune systems or chronic disease. Pneumonia can vary in intensity, from relatively mild and treatable to life-threatening. In its more serious forms, pneumonia can pose a significant threat to a person's health, as the signs and symptoms often come on suddenly. Potential signs of pneumonia include chest pain, fever, chills, coughing, and shortness of breath.

 

If you or a loved one has acquired pneumonia while in the hospital that has led to serious health consequences because it was caused by poor hygiene in the hospital or the failure to diagnose and treat the lung infection at its earliest stage, the Locks Law Firm may be able to help you to pursue your legal rights.

Bloodstream Infections

Infections in the bloodstream can be extremely detrimental to the health of a patient. Among the more serious bloodstream infections a patient can acquire in a hospital are hepatitis A, B, and C; HIV and AIDS; mumps; tuberculosis; and SARS. Many bloodstream infections can be deadly and some are completely untreatable, such as HIV which is a permanent affliction for which there is no cure. If you have contracted a hospital-acquired bloodstream infection or if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death as a result of one, the attorneys at the Locks Law Firm may be able to help.

Surgical Site Infections

Many problems arise as a result of surgical site infections particularly when they are not promptly recognized and treated. Failure to properly sanitize operating instruments or other sources of infection within the operating room may be the cause of an infection that presents particular challenges in treatment. If the infection arose during the implantation of hardware such as in knee replacements, hip replacements, or spine rods the infection can be particularly resistant to treatment because of the presence of the foreign object in the body. If the infection is not promptly and aggressively treated it may require the removal of the implanted hardware. Failures in bowel or colon surgery can give rise to massive abdominal infections if not promptly recognized and treated before fecal material spreads through the peritoneum. If you have suffered from this type of hospital acquired infection with serious consequences we can evaluate your case to determine if there was actionable negligence.

Frequency of HAI

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are as many as 700,000 hospital-acquired infection cases in the United States every year. Of the total number of patients who acquire HAIs, the CDC estimates that 75,000 individuals (roughly 10 percent) die every year as a result. Of the total number of cases, pneumonia and infections at the place of surgery are the most common, each accounting for 21 percent of cases.

 

If you have suffered emotional and physical hardship as a result of a hospital-acquired infection, you may be eligible for financial compensation. An experienced medical malpractice and negligence attorney at the Locks Law Firm can review your potential case and determine whether you are eligible for compensation.

Contact a Locks Law Firm Hospital Acquired Infection and Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have more questions regarding hospital-acquired infections, an experienced Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York medical malpractice and medical negligence attorney can help you today. Contact the Locks Law Firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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