A hospital acquired infection (HAI) is sometimes referred to as a secondary infection or a nosocomial infection. These infections are conditions which patients develop due to exposure to some type of contamination in a health care setting. It is important to note that while these are referred to as "hospital acquired", a patient may be exposed to these types of conditions in a variety of health care settings, including nursing homes, long-term rehabilitation facilities, and inpatient and outpatient clinics.
The source of a hospital acquired infection can vary greatly. They can come from improperly washed hands of a medical professional, contaminated bed linens, water droplets in the air, other patients, unsterilized surgical instruments, and a variety of other root causes. The problem of hospital acquired infections in the United States is extremely serious. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that roughly 1.7 million cases develop each year, and result in 99,000 deaths annually.
Hospital acquired infections come from a variety of microorganisms which a patient may be exposed to in a health care setting. These can include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In a facility such as a hospital, it can be expected that these types of microorganisms are present in large numbers. This is why it is critical that health care facilities establish procedures that will keep patients safe from an introduction to these harmful microorganisms and equally as critical that hospital staff follows all hygiene-related procedures.
Hospital Acquired Infections: Medical Malpractice?
Keeping patients safe from hospital acquired infections requires action from both hospital administrators and staff. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities must establish proper procedures for keeping instruments, medical devices, hands, and other important elements free of harmful microorganisms. Deviation from these protocols can have disastrous results for an already-vulnerable patient. If you suspect that you or a loved one might have contracted an infection during a hospital stay, contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian. Working closely with our staff physician, we will begin the process of getting you the compensation to which you are entitled.