Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Hospital-Acquired Infection September 12, 2013.

Following a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), Fox News reported on September 4, 2013, that HAIs affect between five and 10 percent of hospitalized patients each year, cause about 99,000 deaths each year, and cost $9.8 billion to treat each year. Surgical site infections of the skin, tissues, or organs account for 34 percent of that $9.8 billion, and, according to the CDC, "develop in about 1 to 3 of every 100 patients who have surgery." Bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, Clostidium difficile infection (C. diff), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs) round out the five most common HAIs.

"These infections are almost all preventable," says the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID). "According to the CDC, at least half of hospital infections could be prevented if caregivers clean their hands immediately before touching patients."

Thus, doctors are supposed to:

  • wash their hands and forearms with an antiseptic prior to operating;
  • wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based product such as Purell both before and after caring for a patient; and
  • wear masks, gowns, gloves, and something to cover their hair during surgery.

Unfortunately, says RID, "Most hospitals tell doctors and nurses to clean their hands, yet doctors break this fundamental rule 52 percent of the time, on average."

Doctors are also supposed to:

  • use electric clippers rather than a razor to rid a patient of hair that may get in the way of a procedure;
  • clean the surgical site with germ-killing soap;
  • administer antibiotics; and
  • ensure that a patient understands everything that he or she will need to know in order to care for the wound until it heals.

While the burden of proof in malpractice cases falls on the plaintiff, "the plaintiff’s attorney could argue that infection is evidence enough that the hospital breached its duty," says RID.

If you’ve contracted a hospital-acquired infection as the result of a treatment, procedure, surgery, or stay at a hospital, doctor’s office, or other healthcare facility, an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you recover monetary damages to cover treatment, any further surgery that may be needed, and other medical expenses. You could also recover funds for lost wages from additional time you were forced to take away from work, pain and suffering, psychological trauma, and mental anguish.

If you have a question about a hospital-acquired infection, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a medical malpractice claim in Ohio.