The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 1.7 million hospital-acquired infections each year or 1 in 10 hospitalized patients. Such infections claim around 90,000 lives annually.
A hospital acquired infection, also known as a nosocomial infection, is defined as one that appears within two to four days after a patient is admitted to a hospital or other care facility. This type of infection is typically acquired through procedures related to treating the initial illness or injury of a patient, and is particularly dangerous because patient’s health is already poor.
According to the CDC, 36 percent of nosocomial infections are preventable. The most common types of infections are urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and infections of surgical wounds. They may develop due to:
- Surgical procedures
- Catheter insertion
The most vulnerable groups
Although all patients are at risk of developing a hospital-acquired illness, the most vulnerable groups are the young, the elderly, and those who have weak immune systems. Other factors that may increase the risk of nosocomial infection include:
- A long hospital stay
- A severe initial illness
- Poor nutrition or immune function
- The failure by healthcare professionals to wash their hands
Once infection is detected, patients are treated with antibiotics. Occasionally, an infection goes undetected and untreated for a considerable length of time. When this occurs, serious injury and death may result.
It is possible to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from a hospital-acquired infection. However, proving that a hospital is liable and that a doctor or other staff member acted negligently is difficult. A Washington D.C. hospital error law firm can determine if you have a legitimate claim by conducting a rigorous investigation and conferring with a third-party physician as to whether substandard care was used. If an infection is found to be preventable and that it resulted from medical negligence, a lawsuit can then be filed.