A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is a medical condition that develops if bacteria infects any part of the urinary tract. These are common infections, especially in women because their urinary tracts are shorter. However, they can also be extremely severe if the infection reaches other organs or your kidneys.
Doctors typically treat UTIs with antibiotics, but the infection can complicate whatever medical condition you originally went to the hospital to cure. Those complications can be especially difficult for the elderly to overcome. A UTI can also lengthen your stay in the hospital, raising your medical bills and causing significant pain and discomfort. When you acquired a UTI in the hospital, all of these repercussions would not be the result of something that you did. The hospital would likely be responsible and should pay compensation for your ordeals.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection is an invasion of bacteria in the urinary tract. The urinary tract is composed of the following organs:
- Prostate (in men only)
There are several different types of urinary tract infection, depending on which organs in the urinary tract have become compromised. In increasing levels of severity, they are:
- Urethritis, or an infection of the urethra, only
- Cystitis, or an infection of the bladder, down (also known as the lower urinary tract)
- Acute pyelonephritis, or an infection of the entire urinary tract, including the kidneys
UTIs that have compromised the kidneys are especially severe because the infection can cause kidney damage and renal failure if left untreated. Kidneys that get compromised or damaged by a UTI can lead to sepsis, a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
While UTIs are not bacteria-specific – any type of bacteria that infects the urinary tract creates UTI – E. coli is the most common type of bacteria in a UTI. E. coli is frequently found in low doses in the gastrointestinal tract where the body can handle it and is expelled from the body in feces. If it reenters the body through the urethra, E. coli can quickly spread as the body has weaker defense mechanisms.
Hospital-acquired UTIs, though, involve a much broader range of bacteria. This can make it more difficult to treat because the correct course of antibiotics depends on the type of bacteria that has created the infection.
Causes of UTI
UTIs can be caused by bacteria either entering the urethra through the penis or vagina. This can happen whenever feces gains entry through either opening and is why women are far more likely to develop a UTI than men are: there is less distance between a woman's anus and her urethra.
Symptoms of UTI
The symptoms of a UTI depend on the type of infection – if the infection has spread upwards in the urinary tract, the symptoms are likely to be more severe.
UTIs that are still confined to the urethra and have not spread into the bladder typically present the following symptoms:
- A burning sensation during urination
- Discharge of other tissues and cells during urination
- Frequent urination
If a UTI has reached your bladder, the symptoms can also include:
- Blood or pus in the urine
- Frequent and painful urination
- The feeling of pressure in your pelvis
- Discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen or pubic area
If the UTI has compromised your entire urinary tract and infected your kidneys, as well, the symptoms can include:
- Pain in the upper back and sides
Risk Factors of UTI
Some people are more susceptible to developing a UTI than others. Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of acquiring a UTI in the hospital. These include:
- Female anatomy
- Compromised immune system
- Abnormalities in the urinary tract
- Sexual intercourse and activity
- Birth control
- Catheter usage
- Surgical procedures on the urinary tract or area
How to Prevent a UTI
As a patient in the hospital, there are a few things that you can do to prevent a UTI:
- Drink lots of liquids, especially water
- Avoid using feminine products that scratch or irritate you
- Wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating
All of these measures aim to keep your urethra clean and flushed. This can prevent bacteria from entering the urethra and infecting your urinary tract and keeps a steady flow of urine coming out of your urethra to purge it of any bacteria that has managed to get inside.
What to Do If You Have Acquired a UTI in a Philadelphia Hospital
If you or a loved one has been admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia and gotten infected with a UTI during your stay, you should seriously consider getting an independent medical evaluation.
A second opinion about your condition is important because hospital doctors or other healthcare professionals who work for the hospital were you think you acquired your UTI have an interest in downplaying the severity of your UTI or making it seem like you got it somewhere else. Hospital-acquired UTIs can lead to lawsuits, so they are likely to take preventative measures to avoid a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this can make it impossible for you to get an unbiased medical opinion about your condition.
If you get a second opinion and it seems like your UTI was acquired in the hospital and caused by something they did, you may be entitled to compensation. After all, you went to the hospital to have a medical condition treated or cured, not get another serious infection that could cause life-threatening consequences and complications. Because you were not at fault for the UTI, you should be compensated for the costs of recovering from it and the terrible experience of having it. Holding the hospital accountable for its actions is important, too.
This is where the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help. By legally representing you and filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf, we can ensure you get the financial coverage you need after such a terrible and expensive experience. Contact us online to get started on your case.