Maryland Attorney for Injury from a Hospital Infection
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find a hospital stay extended after a routine surgical procedure because of an infection.
Healthcare-associated infections or hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are infections people get while receiving medical attention at a health facility, such as a hospital. HAIs are a significant cause of illness and death, resulting in devastating emotional, economic, and medical consequences.
Contact our experienced attorneys for Injury from a hospital infection at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (443) 251-3497 to schedule a free case consultation.
Common Causes of Injuries from Hospital Infections in Maryland
Hospital-acquired infections are a serious problem in Maryland. Unfortunately, hospitals do not always take the necessary care to ensure their facility is up to the proper standard of care. Fortunately, our attorneys for Injury from a hospital infection can help you get the justice you deserve from the hospital responsible for your injuries. Healthcare professionals can spread infection in several ways that can usually be avoided. The following are some of the most common causes of hospital infections in Maryland:
Lack of Clean Hospital Environment
Hospitals are not always sanitary places in Maryland. In addition to lacking cleanliness, hospitals can also have many other problems that make them unsafe places for patients. For example, a lack of sanitary equipment like bed rails and toilets can easily spread infection-causing bacteria. Unsanitary conditions also make it easier for medical staff to contaminate themselves or their equipment, spreading to patients when they use them. Hospitals must ensure adequate cleaning protocols and infection control practices in operating rooms to avoid negligent infections.
Unclean Medical Instruments and Tools
Medical instruments and tools left unwashed after being used on previous patients can carry germs that infect new patients who use them. This is especially true for items like stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs that touch multiple people during a single day. However, the real danger tends to come from contaminated surgical equipment. Surgeries already carry many inherent risks, but failing to clean surgical tools or sterilize the site and the doctor’s hands before the operation can easily cause a patient to become dangerously infected.
Failure to Wear Protective Medical Gear
If a doctor or nurse fails to wear protective gear, they can easily transmit infections to their patients. This is especially true if the patient is immunocompromised. This usually occurs when a medical professional fails to follow the standard procedures established by the hospital, like washing their hands before treating each patient, using gloves when touching body fluids, or failing to wear a mask or protective face gear. If these safety guidelines are not followed, it is much more likely that a healthcare worker expose an infection to others.
Complications from Infections from Maryland Hospitals
Hospitals and other medical facilities are full of bacteria. it is not uncommon for patients to get an infection from a surgical procedure or another patient. If quickly diagnosed and treated, HAIs may not cause any significant medical complications. However, an undetected or untreated infection can result in sepsis, septic shock, or death.
Many people in hospitals already have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to infections. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses generally cause hospital infections, spreading infection through person-to-person contact. Therefore, unwashed hands and inadequately sterilized medical instruments are responsible for the spread of many of these infections. Medication errors, such as an improper administration of antibiotics, can increase the risk of infections or increase the risk of an infection becoming resistant to antibiotics. the most common types of infections in hospitals include surgical incision infections, gastroenteritis, meningitis, pneumonia, staph infections, and MRSA.
A patient will usually exhibit symptoms from hospital-acquired infections anywhere from 48 hours after admission to a medical facility to three days after discharge to a month after a surgical procedure. the exact symptoms will depend on the type of infection. Some of the most common symptoms include puss or oozing from a wound, vomiting, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, nausea, and diarrhea.
Infections Causing Sepsis or Septic Shock at Maryland Hospitals
An undiagnosed infection can develop into sepsis. Sepsis is a severe medical complication that can develop if an infection is untreated. When sepsis, a victim’s immune system disperses chemicals that produce inflammation throughout the body instead of fighting harmful bacteria. This inflammation can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure, organ failure, neurological damage, and other symptoms. If not diagnosed in time, sepsis can worsen into septic shock and become fatal.
Other Common Hospital Infections that Lead to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Maryland
Hospital-acquired infections are a common reason patients and their families file medical malpractice lawsuits. These infections can occur at any point during your hospital stay, but they are most prevalent in the first few days of treatment. Many of these infections can be deadly if not identified by a medical professional and treated quickly. The following are the most common infections that victims can contract in Maryland hospitals:
Meningitis is one of the most common hospital infections. Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The infection usually starts as a minor illness with headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Later symptoms may include a stiff neck, confusion, seizures, and coma. Meningitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses, or both. Meningitis is typically treated with antibiotics but can lead to brain damage and even death if not treated quickly.
Staph infections are another common type of hospital-acquired infection that occur in Maryland.
Staph infections can be serious for anyone who contracts them but are especially dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, young children, and older adults admitted into the hospital. The bacteria typically enter the body through mucous membranes, such as those in the nose or mouth, or through a break in the skin, such as an injection site or intravenous line. If left untreated, staph infections can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream sepsis, and an even worse version of staph infection, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics and difficult to treat. It most often infects people who are hospitalized because it can spread easily among patients if proper care is not taken to clean the hospital adequately. MRSA can also spread from person-to-person contact, such as when a patient is being examined by their doctor or undergoing a surgical procedure.
Another common type of hospital-acquired infection is pneumonia caused by bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococcus) or Klebsiella pneumonia (Klebsiella). Pneumonia can be caused by aspiration, which is when liquid or bacteria enter your lungs through a break in your skin or mucous membranes from surgery or other treatments you received. It is more likely to occur in people who have weakened immune systems from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or other conditions while staying in the hospital.
Surgical Incision Infections
Surgical incision infections are localized infections at the site of an incision made during surgery. These wounds can become infected if not kept clean and covered with sterile bandages during recovery after surgery. They can also occur when bacteria from another part of the body enter through an open wound during surgery, known as “wound contamination.” This commonly occurs when patients are exposed to bacteria on dirty surgical tools or other surfaces in the operating room.
Gastroenteritis is a common hospital-acquired infection (HAI) that occurs when bacteria, viruses, or parasites enter the intestines through food or drink. Many individuals must stay at the hospital for an extended period to treat their injuries, and those people need to eat. If a hospital is unsanitary or has poor health standards in their cafeteria, the food that patients are brought could contain bacteria leading to dangerous gastrointestinal infections.
Epiglottitis is a rare but serious hospital infection in the throat and upper respiratory tract. It causes sudden swelling of the epiglottis, the flap of cartilage at the back of the tongue that protects our windpipes and keeps us from choking. If a patient contracts a hospital infection, it can make its way to this area, causing serious problems. This swelling can block your airway, making breathing difficult or impossible.
Clostridium difficile, or “C. diff,” is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and abdominal pain but can lead to serious life-threatening conditions if not treated immediately.
Hospital Infections, Risk Factors, and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Maryland
Hospital-acquired infections are somewhat common, and contracting an infection does not necessarily give rise to a medical malpractice claim. There are certain inherent risks involved with any hospital stay or surgical procedure. Establishing medical malpractice requires demonstrating that there were avoidable, negligent errors. Additionally, the mistake must be a negligent deviation from the established standard of care when compared to the care other medical professionals would provide. Furthermore, the error must directly cause a severe injury and result in economic or noneconomic damages to qualify as malpractice.
Our experienced Maryland hospital infection attorneys will evaluate your injury and its potential causes to determine if you have a valid medical malpractice claim. Various factors will be considered to determine if an injury from a hospital infection was the result of medical malpractice. We will also investigate who should be held liable for any injury or harm, whether that be the doctor, the hospital, the nursing staff, or other parties.
Proving a Medical Malpractice Case for Hospital-Acquired Infections in Maryland
The question of whether the infection was caused by negligence or not requires looking at the totality of the circumstances in the case. For example, the type of surgery or procedure, the length of the stay in the hospital, the strength of the patient’s immune system, and other considerations about the patient’s general health and age can increase or decrease the risk of infection. If a doctor fails to properly assess a patient’s risk and allows a high-risk patient to go untreated, that conduct may constitute medical malpractice.
Next, factors dealing with the hospital itself must be evaluated. the risk of infection can substantially increase depending on the general cleanliness of the hospital, the sanitation practices used, the sterilization of medical instruments, the quality of air and water, and the distribution of hospital beds. A hospital should have strict protocols in place to ensure that the environment is as clean and sterile as possible. If a hospital does not have such procedures in place or if the staff fails to follow these procedures, the hospital may be liable for any injuries stemming from an infection.
Finally, there must be a critical assessment of the conduct of the doctors, nurses, and other members of the hospital staff since infections can be spread through interaction with medical personnel. the risk of infection increases if hospital workers fail to properly wash their hands. Additionally, careless administration of invasive treatments, such as IVs or catheters, can lead to infections. Doctors and nurses can also make medication mistakes when prescribing or dispensing antibiotics, leaving patients unprotected from certain infection risks or allowing an antibiotic-resistant infection to grow.
It may be challenging to determine the actual cause of the infection. Our experienced Maryland malpractice attorneys will carefully examine all factors to establish liability and prove your injury was the result of hospital negligence.
Our Maryland Attorneys for Injuries from a Hospital Infection Can Help
For a free case evaluation with our attorneys for injury from a hospital infection, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (443) 251-3497 today.