S. maltophilia is a type of bacteria that can cause a hospital-acquired infection. Depending on where the infection happens, it can be life-threatening or merely debilitating. S. maltophilia bacteria are resistant to many kinds of antibiotics, so treating an infection can be difficult. For people with immune systems that are already compromised, this makes an S. maltophilia infection even more severe.
Because S. maltophilia infections can be prevented through a regular cleaning regimen, hospitals that allow these kinds of infections should be held accountable. They could have taken the steps that would likely have prevented the infection but did not.
The medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can fight on your behalf to make sure you get the compensation that you deserve if you or a loved one developed an S. maltophilia infection during a stay in a Philadelphia hospital.
S. Maltophilia Infections
Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a bacteria that has increasingly been the cause of some serious hospital-acquired infections in the past few decades. Typically found in humid environments and water, S. maltophilia has been colonizing wet or moist areas in hospitals, including:
- Indwelling catheters
- Intravenous needles and lines
- Breathing tubes
Once the bacteria have grown on these medical devices, they can infiltrate the human body and spread in an infection by growing in internal fluids like:
- IV fluids
Depending on where this infection goes into the body, the medical conditions can be mild or severe and can drastically alter the symptoms felt by the victim of the infection. Some of the most common types of S. maltophilia infections include those that compromise the:
Relatively rare, but also very severe, types of S. maltophilia infections compromise other organs like the:
- Lining around internal organs
- Soft tissue
- Urinary tract
- Cerebral spinal fluid
Causes of S. Maltophilia
S. maltophilia grows naturally in wet environments, so humans regularly interact with the bacteria. However, the immune systems of most people are more than enough to keep the bacteria at bay and stave off a noticeable infection.
When people with compromised immune systems contact large amounts of S. maltophilia bacteria, though, it can lead to an infection. Even healthy people can contract an S. maltophilia infection if S. maltophilia bacteria bypass some crucial components of their immune system, like their skin, and invade their internal organs.
This means that hospitals are among the most likely places for you to come into contact with S. maltophilia bacteria and get infected by it.
Risk Factors for Contracting an S. Maltophilia Infection
The causes of S. maltophilia infections makes it clear that the following people are at especially high risk of contracting an infection:
- People with immune systems that have been compromised by medication or a medical condition like HIV
- Anyone in a prolonged hospital stay
- People who need a breathing tube, IV line, or urinary catheter
- Patients in an intensive care unit (ICU)
However, medical studies have found that there are also other risk factors that are less apparent. These include:
- Prolonged treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics
- A recent surgical procedure
- A recent organ transplant or prosthetic implantation procedure
- Cystic fibrosis
Symptoms of an S. Maltophilia Infection
The symptoms of an S. maltophilia infection will change depending on where the bacteria entered the body and which organs have been compromised by the bacteria.
One of the most common types of S. maltophilia infection compromises the lungs. These infections come with symptoms that mirror pneumonia, including:
- Lingering cough
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- High amounts of mucus and phlegm
A more severe infection happens when S. maltophilia gets into the bloodstream. This can carry the following symptoms:
- Low blood pressure
- Abnormal or rapid heart rate
- Abdominal pain
S. maltophilia infections of the bloodstream can also quickly compromise other internal organs, like the kidneys and liver.
S. Maltophilia in Philadelphia Hospitals
S. maltophilia can be a significant problem in hospitals because of the number of patients who have compromised immune systems, already, and the number of people who rely on medical devices that can grow S. maltophilia bacteria.
However, this also means that hospitals should be on the lookout for the bacteria and should take preventative measures to make sure vulnerable patients never come into contact with it. Effective and easy preventative measures could include:
- Regularly changing IV tubes
- Cleaning ventilators
- Changing indwelling catheters according to a schedule that minimizes the risk of infection
These are not earth-shattering or even inconvenient cleaning requirements or policy changes. In fact, hospitals should probably be abiding by them already to prevent other and more common hospital-acquired infections. Nevertheless, many hospitals in the Philadelphia area seem to shirk their duties to keep their patients safe from this potentially lethal infection.
When hospitals have options like these at their disposal but fail to use them, and you or a loved one suffers a severe S. Maltophilia infection as a result of that oversight or failure to act, the hospital should be held accountable.
Getting an independent medical opinion about your condition can be the first thing to do. If the second opinion concludes that you have been infected by S. maltophilia and that you likely got it at the hospital, you may be entitled to compensation.
If this is the case, your next step might be to hire a lawyer to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and hospital responsible for your infection. By filing a lawsuit, you can not only recover the compensation that you need and deserve to cover the costs of treating and dealing with your S. maltophilia infection, but it can also hold the hospital accountable for its poor policies and actions.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
If you or a loved one has gotten infected by S. maltophilia at a Philadelphia hospital, the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact them online to get started on your case.