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Worrying About More than Just Obvious Errors – Beware of HAIs

Hundreds of thousands of patients are treated in hospitals each year, many of them successfully. However, even when a patient receives the treatment that he or she need, the patient may still be at risk of a HAI, or hospital-acquired or health care associated infection (HAI). A HAI can cause serious harm to a patient, including death, even when everything else has gone right. When a patient suffers from a preventable HAI, the hospital may be held liable for any adverse events.

The Rates of HAIs in the United States

HAIs are incredibly common. According to an article in Philly.com, each year in the United States there are a reported 1.7 million HAIs. The types of hospital-acquired infections range from MRSA to UTIs and more, ranging not only in type, but in severity and outcome as well. Because hospital patients typically have weakened immune systems, they are often more susceptible less resilient to HAIs.

Preventing HAIs

Preventing HAIs is the responsibility of the clinic or hospital where the treatment takes place, as well as the staff and doctors who are working within. But patients and their families can also take steps to reduce the risk of acquiring an infection in the hospital. For example, ensuring that a loved one in the hospital gets a bath daily can help to reduce the risk of MRSA or other superbugs. Doing research about infection rates within a hospital before seeking care at that hospital can also help. Further, ask a hospital about its policy regarding sanitation and infection control.

Who Is Liable for an HAI? 

As stated above, an HAI can, in the most severe of cases, cause serious patient harm and even death. When harm or death occurs, who is liable?

In order to hold a doctor, hospital, or other health care professional liable for injury caused by an HAI, a plaintiff must prove that one (or all) of the above parties acted negligently. For example, failing to properly sterilize surgical tools or an operating room, failing to bathe a patient, or failing to wash hands in between treating patients may all be acts of negligence. If the plaintiff can prove that his or her HAI would not have been incurred but for the negligence of the hospital (staff), then he or she can seek damages for all of his or her losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a health care associated infection leads to death, family members may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

How a Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Hospital acquired infections are serious medical concerns. If you are the victim of a preventable HAI, an experienced medical malpractice attorney serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey can assist you. At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our medical malpractice attorneys can help you to understand why a hospital may be liable for your HAI, how to prove that liability, and what damages you may be able to recover. To learn more, contact our offices by calling us directly or using our online form to request your free case consultation.

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