P. Aeruginosa is a hospital-acquired infection that can be life-threatening or fatal, depending on where the infection occurs. While it generally only infects people who have compromised immune systems, it can get healthy people sick, as well, especially if it has a way to get inside the body. Once it gets inside, P. Aeruginosa infections are extremely difficult to treat because the bacteria have developed immunity to numerous kinds of antibiotics.
Preventing a hospital-acquired P. Aeruginosa infection is in the hands of the hospital itself. They are in the best position to clean the medical equipment that allows spores of the bacteria to breed and spread. The hospital is also in charge of making sure its staff follows correct hygiene and hand-washing procedures, which can help to minimize the spread of P. Aeruginosa in the facility.
If you or a loved one gets P. Aeruginosa while in the hospital, there was often little that you could have done to prevent it from happening and lots that the hospital could have done to keep you safe. Holding them accountable and recovering the compensation you need for your recovery is where the personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help.
P. Aeruginosa Infections
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a type of bacteria that is found in both natural and artificial environments. It is found in or on:
- Skin, including human skin
It can also survive in low-oxygen environments where many other microorganisms die. However, P. Aeruginosa is most at home in moist environments where it can spread in water.
The versatility of P. Aeruginosa means that it can easily and quickly infiltrate hospitals, where it can find some of the patients with the most compromised immune systems. This is also where P. Aeruginosa bacteria find the least competition from other germs. The heavy use of antibiotics in hospitals often keeps most other types of bacterial infections at bay. However, P. Aeruginosa is immune to the most wide-range antibiotics, allowing it to ignore most of the preventative measures and treatments that hospitals throw at bacterial infections.
As early as 1983, P. Aeruginosa was causing an estimated 10-20% of hospital-acquired infections. The vast majority of these infections were in people who were already struggling with another disease or other medical condition. However, as case studies showed, healthy people could also get infected with P. Aeruginosa, as well.
Those infections could trickle down and cause other medical complications that could quickly exacerbate the problem and become life-threatening, including:
- Urinary tract infections
- Infections of the bloodstream
- Septic shock
Causes of P. Aeruginosa
P. Aeruginosa infections happen in healthcare settings when medical equipment gets compromised by the bacteria. Certain pieces of medical equipment get moist over time and through use, making them more susceptible to P. Aeruginosa. These include:
- Indwelling catheters
- IV tubes
- Ventilator tubes
- Wound coverings, like gauze and bandages
Risk Factors for Getting a P. Aeruginosa Infection
There are certain factors that, when present, increase the likelihood of developing a P. Aeruginosa infection. Some of the most important include:
- Long hospital stays
- Recent organ transplant
- Heavy use of IVs
- IV drug addiction
- Ventilator use
- Burn injuries and wounds
- Cystic fibrosis
- Indwelling catheter use, especially for more than a few days
All of these risk factors have one of two things in common. They either involve heavy use of a moist medical instrument that provides a direct path through the skin and into the bloodstream or lungs, or they drastically reduce the ability of the immune system to fight off an infection of P. Aeruginosa.
Symptoms of an Infection of P. Aeruginosa
The symptoms of an infection of P. Aeruginosa depend on where the infection has occurred.
Most P. Aeruginosa infections are on the skin level, compromising open wounds, especially burns. The symptoms of these P. Aeruginosa infections include:
- Redness and tenderness in the skin around the wound
- Burning sensation at the site of the wound
If the infection spreads from the wound, or if it begins by infecting an internal organ or the bloodstream, the symptoms can be much more severe and have the potential to cause other medical complications.
For example, infections of P. Aeruginosa that reach the bloodstream – whether by spreading from an infected wound, through a urinary catheter or from an infected IV line – can create the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems, including shortness of breath
Treating P. Aeruginosa Infections
The real danger of a P. Aeruginosa infection is the fact that the bacteria are immune to so many antibiotics. Doctors have to rely on intensive treatments that often cause such significant side effects that can put already suffering patients at risk of developing further symptoms.
For patients who are already struggling to fend off the disease or medical condition that brought them to the hospital in the first place, an infection of P. Aeruginosa can be the last straw.
P. Aeruginosa in Philadelphia Hospitals
P. Aeruginosa infections can be prevented or minimized in hospitals sticking to proper bacterial cleaning policies. Hospitals are solely in charge of creating and executing these policies in their facilities. When they fail to do so, though, it is the patients who get hurt in the form of a serious infection of P. Aeruginosa.
If you or a loved one has been in a Philadelphia-area hospital and developed the symptoms of a P. Aeruginosa infection, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses associated with treating and recovering from the infection. Because of the high costs of healthcare and the odds that the infection kept you in the hospital for far longer than you would have stayed, had you not gotten infected with P. Aeruginosa, those losses you have suffered can be significant.
The personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help you recover that compensation and hold the hospital accountable for their oversight – an oversight that is putting other patients at risk, too.
Contact them online to get started on your case.