Patients usually go to the hospital for treatment, but there are times when hospitalization results in a severe infection. Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are more common than you might think, and when they result from negligence, they might constitute medical malpractice.
What is an HAI?
An HAI is an infection unrelated to the patient’s initial diagnosis, and it usually occurs hours after admission to the hospital. Early detection is often crucial for effective treatment; over time, an HAI can worsen and result in sepsis, a condition that can damage a patient’s internal organs or lead to death.
HAIs usually occur because, even with stringent sanitation, hospitals may still be home to various bacteria and other pathogens. Moreover, patients often have weakened immune systems because of their condition or treatment procedures. There are many types of HAIs, the most common of which include staph infections, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.
Are hospitals liable for HAIs?
Hospitals might be liable for HAIs if their staff’s negligence contributed to the occurrence of HAIs. Negligent behaviors may include:
- Failure to disinfect. Hospitals need to disinfect all equipment to reduce the risk of infection. Failure to do this may make them liable for medical malpractice.
- Surgical neglect. Hospital staff should sanitize all tools and equipment used in surgery. They should also ensure the patient does not receive contaminated blood.
- Delay in treatment. Any delay in diagnosing and treating HAIs generally puts the patient in greater harm.
- Lack of informed consent. Before conducting any procedure, hospital staff should inform the patient of possible risk of an infection occurring.
HAIs are dangerous and can have lasting consequences. If you have reason to believe hospital staff was negligent, an attorney can help you establish a strong case and protect your rights.