Are Hospitals Liable for Hospital-Acquired Infections?

Hospital stays are stressful for families and patients. No one wants to be away from home due to illness. 

Patients want to recover from medical procedures and conditions as soon as possible and return to normal life. A hospital-acquired infection can make a patient sicker than before, increase the time spent in the hospital, and even lead to patient death. 

If you or your loved one acquired an infection while hospitalized, you may be eligible for compensation to pay for any infection-related damages you incurred. The following offers general information about hospital-acquired infections and liability in Kentucky.

For specific case advice, contact an experienced Louisville medical malpractice attorney.

What Are Hospital-Acquired Infections?

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are a leading cause of patient death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million patients acquire an HAI each year and 99,000 of those patients succumb to the infection.

HAIs are not related to a patient’s diagnosed condition or health upon admittance to the hospital. Many HAIs are preventable with industry-adopted sanitation, hygiene, and sterilization techniques. 

Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections

There are several types of HAIs. Some of the most common are the following:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. MRSA is a bacterial infection highly resistant to antibiotic treatment. It is regularly found on the skin and in the respiratory tract;
  • Clostridium difficile colitis or C. diff. C. diff is a bacterium in the colon. When it becomes predominant, a patient can become ill with antibiotic-resistant colitis;
  • Urinary tract infections. Infections of the bladder or kidneys due to bacteria like E. coli entering the body through the urine tube;
  • Surgical site infections. Bacteria can enter the body at the incision site during or after surgery; and
  • Bloodstream infections or BSI. A BSI can happen when bacteria enter the bloodstream from an untreated wound and a resulting infection is not addressed.

Hospitals can limit or stop the infection of patients by hand-washing and wearing gloves. Patients with infectious HAIs can also be isolated to prevent their spread to others. 

Liability for Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospitals may be liable for HAIs when they fail to maintain reasonable safety standards as accepted by the medical community when treating patients. To recover compensation for hospital acquired infections, a patient must suffer harm and some form of compensable damages. Patients may be eligible for compensation to cover economic and non-economic costs associated with treating infections resulting from negligence or malpractice by hospital personnel. Maintaining thorough documentation can help demonstrate the impact of a hospital-acquired infection and determine the appropriate compensation.

A hospital may be liable if they or their staff neglect to do the following:

  • Gain informed consent. Patients must be informed of the potential risk of infection when undergoing treatment or surgery;
  • Treat a wound or infection. If staff fail to treat a wound or infection in time and it spreads as a result, the hospital may be liable;
  • Fail to follow proper hygiene and sanitation standards during surgery or other procedures. A hospital may be liable when staff use unsanitized equipment or unsanitary techniques and a patient contracts an HAI; 
  • Fail to disinfect equipment between patients. If staff fail to disinfect equipment between patients and a patient is infected, the hospital may be responsible;
  • Fail to hire qualified staff or train current staff in hygiene and sanitation;
  • Fail to implement safety, sanitation, and sterilization procedures;
  • Neglect to maintain, repair, or replace medical equipment; or
  • Fail to separate or quarantine infectious patients.

If you suffered an HAI and would like to know if the hospital is liable for your injuries, get legal help from an experienced Louisville personal injury attorney specializing in medical malpractice claims. 

Contact an Experienced Louisville Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

As patients we count on hospitals and their staff to make us feel better, not worse. If you were made sicker by an HAI and would like to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, reach out to Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC.

Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, has helped Kentucky victims of medical malpractice pursue justice for more than thirty years. We are a highly successful personal injury firm with millions in jury verdicts across Kentucky.

Call us in Louisville today to discuss your HAI. Your consultation is complimentary and risk-free at Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC.