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Gastroenteritis is the medical condition that is colloquially, but also misleadingly, known as the stomach flu. Gastroenteritis is a common intestinal infection that affects thousands of people in the U.S. every year. To people who have compromised immune systems or other medical problems, though, gastroenteritis can be a life-threatening condition.
When you get gastroenteritis in the hospital, it can prolong your stay and make your life miserable until you overcome the setback. Depending on why you in the hospital, in the first place, hospital-acquired gastroenteritis can create severe medical complications that can put your life at risk.
The personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can legally represent you and work to recover the compensation you deserve if you went to a Philadelphia hospital and got a case of gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis is an infection in your intestines that causes inflammation in your intestinal lining. The type of bacteria that has infected your intestinal tract does not change the diagnosis. However, different types of bacteria can drastically alter how bad gastroenteritis can be.
Gastroenteritis is often referred to as a “stomach flu,” but that label is misleading: influenza is a separate medical condition that only implicates your respiratory system, like your lungs, throat, and your nose. By its definition, influenza cannot concern any other part of your body.
Causes of Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is usually caused by eating or drinking food or liquid that has been contaminated with bacteria. The contamination can occur when someone who has a virus prepares food without washing their hands.
However, gastroenteritis can also happen through direct or indirectly contacting someone who has been infected. This can happen if you share eating utensils or touch something that was used by someone who has gastroenteritis and then transfers the germs on your hands to your mouth.
This is why gastroenteritis spreads so quickly through a family or a household – living in close quarters and sharing things can easily lead to the spread of the germs that can cause gastroenteritis. It is also why gastroenteritis spreads through hospitals, as well: as soon as one staff member gets infected, they can infect dozens of patients before they realize that they have gastroenteritis.
Symptoms of Gastroenteritis
The symptoms of gastroenteritis are familiar to anyone who has had “stomach flu.” They include:
- Minor fever
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain, cramps, and discomfort
Diarrhea and vomiting are the hallmark signs of gastroenteritis. The diarrhea is often very watery, which can lead to dehydration. However, gastroenteritis diarrhea is not bloody – if there is blood in diarrhea, it is a sign that there is another medical condition at play.
Importantly, there is often a delay between the infection and these symptoms. Sometimes the delay can be only a few hours, while other cases of gastroenteritis are asymptomatic for multiple days. People can pass gastroenteritis germs to others before they know they have been infected, themselves. This makes it difficult to keep gastroenteritis from spreading.
Risk Factors for Gastroenteritis
Some people are more at risk for gastroenteritis than others. These at-risk people also tend to be those who are least able to fight off a case of gastroenteritis, or who suffer more from it than others would.
The most at-risk people are children and the elderly. Children are far more likely to put things in their mouth or touch something that has been infected with germs that cause gastroenteritis, and then put their fingers in their mouth. They also tend to wash their hands less often and have worse hygiene than adults do.
Older people are also at risk of contracting gastroenteritis because their immune systems have become weaker over time. They are especially at risk for developing gastroenteritis if they live in nursing homes or if they have a prolonged stay in a hospital.
How to Prevent Gastroenteritis
Like many other infections, the odds of getting gastroenteritis can be reduced by simply washing your hands and practicing good hygiene, especially in the kitchen and while eating.
What You Can Do If You Get Gastroenteritis in a Philadelphia Hospital
If you go to a hospital in Philadelphia and get gastroenteritis while you are there, you may be entitled to compensation for your experience, your suffering, and any medical expenses that you incur in treating your condition.
Getting an independent medical opinion about your condition is often an important, and sometimes difficult, first step. Hospital doctors do not want to admit that you got gastroenteritis in their hospital because it could open their employer – and sometimes even themselves – up to a medical malpractice claim. They are likely to search for some other cause for your symptoms or even downplay the severity of your condition in an attempt to insulate themselves from liability for any mistakes they made or contribution they had to your problems. Having a doctor from outside the hospital diagnose you can be the only way to get a true, unbiased opinion.
If it turns out that you have gastroenteritis and that you likely acquired it in the hospital, your next step may be to turn to an attorney. Getting gastroenteritis should never happen at a hospital and is often the result of poor hygiene, negligence by one of the staff members, or faulty policies that permeate the facility. You have no control over these things and so should not have to pay for the costs of the foreseeable outcomes of these issues.
Those costs can be considerable. Gastroenteritis is not a trivial infection to get in a hospital, especially if your health is already compromised by the medical condition that brought you to the hospital, in the first place. Gastroenteritis can easily trigger medical complications that cost thousands of dollars to treat or cure. When you only acquired gastroenteritis because of something the hospital did or failed to do, you should be entitled to compensation.
Holding the hospital accountable and recovering that compensation is what the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help you do. Contact them online to get started on your case if you went to a hospital and got gastroenteritis instead of the medical care you needed.