Staph is the short name for the bacteria Staphylococcus. There are more than 40 different species of Staphylococcus bacteria, ranging from the benign to the deadly. Staph infections are a catch-all term for an internal invasion of any one of these species of bacteria.
Staph infections are among the most common types of infection that you can suffer and are frequently acquired in hospitals in the Philadelphia area. People who do get infected with Staphylococcus in the hospital, though, often see their recovery time extended by several days or weeks while they deal with the infection.
The personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian can fight on your behalf and recover the compensation that you deserve for the financial toll of dealing with a hospital-acquired Staph infection.
Infections of Staphylococcus are incredibly common, not just because the bacteria comes in 40 different species but because it is also easy to transmit and difficult to get rid of. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Staphylococcus is the leading cause of infections in healthcare facilities in the U.S.
Staphylococcus bacteria are found on the skin and inside the nose of even healthy individuals, where they pose no threat. However, if Staph bacteria manage to invade the body in even moderate numbers, it can become a serious infection.
Symptoms of a Staph Infection
Staph infections present certain symptoms that depend on where and how the infection has developed.
Staph bacteria most commonly infect your skin. This is the least severe type of Staph infection and often goes away on its own or with a regimen of antibiotics. These kinds of Staph infections have the following symptoms:
- Boils filled with pus that grow in a hair follicle or gland
- Red and swollen skin
- Burning sensation on the skin
- Impetigo rashes
Staph infections can also get into your joints and cause septic arthritis, a debilitating joint condition. These kinds of Staph infections have the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Swelling in the infected joint
Food poisoning is also commonly caused by Staphylococcus bacteria that have contaminated something that you ate. These symptoms develop quickly, often within hours of eating the contaminated food, and include:
Unlike most other kinds of Staph infections, food poisoning from Staphylococcus rarely leads to a fever. It also tends to go away much quicker than other kinds of Staph infections, only lasting a day or two.
When Staphylococcus infects the bloodstream, it creates a medical condition known as septicemia. This medical condition often triggers other medical problems, some of them life-threatening, as the Staph infection reaches internal organs like the heart or lungs. Symptoms of septicemia are low-key, making it difficult to diagnose:
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
Risk Factors for Staphylococcus Infections
Certain people have a higher risk of developing a Staphylococcus infection than others. People who have the following medical conditions are more likely to get a Staph infection:
- Immune systems that are compromised by medical conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer
- Skin conditions that fail to prevent Staph infections, like eczema
- Kidney problems that require dialysis
- Diabetics who need insulin
Staph infections are also more likely to happen if you:
- Have an open wound or sore that can get infected, including a burn injury
- Inject drugs or medicine
- Need a catheter or other needle inserted in your skin for medical reasons
- Have been in the hospital for a long period of time
- Have an invasive surgical procedure
How to Avoid Contracting a Staph Infection
Staphylococcus is a very hardy bacterium that is difficult to kill. However, it is possible to reduce your risks of contracting a severe Staph infection by taking the following precautions:
- Washing your hands with soap and water
- Keeping any open wounds covered
- Not sharing personal hygiene items with other people, including razor blades, toothbrushes, or even water bottles
- Cook and refrigerate food properly
- Clean sheets and bedding thoroughly with hot water and soap
While these preventative measures are not specialized or overwhelming, hospitals in Philadelphia have shown that they often struggle to stick to them, leading to local outbreaks of hospital-acquired Staph infections.
Hospital-Acquired Staph Infections are a Serious Problem
Staphylococcus infections that happen in hospitals are not just common; they can also be extremely severe. Patients who are undergoing a surgical procedure are especially at risk because the incision made during the surgery – however small it may be – can open the floodgates for Staphylococcus to get inside the body. Once there, it can wreak havoc.
In 2017 alone, nearly 120,000 people got a Staph infection in their bloodstream. Almost 20,000 of them died from the condition and the complications that it caused. Most of these conditions originated in healthcare facilities and hospitals.
What You Can Do If You Acquire a Staph Infection in a Philadelphia Hospital
If you go to a hospital in Philadelphia and develop a Staph infection that you did not have before you went in, you may want to consider seeking independent medical help. Hospital doctors have a reason to cover up the extent of the problem and how you got infected with Staphylococcus – it could insulate their hospital or even themselves from medical malpractice.
If you do get an independent medical assessment and learn that you have a hospital-acquired Staph infection, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical condition and the costs of treating it. The pain and debilitation of a Staph infection, especially a severe one that implicates your blood or injures an organ, should not be underrated. The financial toll of treating the infection can quickly get alarmingly high.
A personal injury lawyer like those at Gilman & Bedigian can help you recover compensation for those losses. By filing a lawsuit against the Philadelphia hospital where you acquired the Staph infection, we can help you demand that the people responsible for your condition pay for the costs of what you have suffered. Contact us online to get started on your case.