Unfortunately, patients developing infections while in the hospital happens more commonly than you may think. If an infection is caught early, it is often easy to treat and causes no additional harm or suffering to a patient. But hospital-acquired infections that go untreated for too long can become dangerous or even deadly. In these cases, providers may have medical malpractice liability for a hospital-acquired infection.
What Is a Hospital-Acquired Infection?
A hospital-acquired infection is considered any infection that occurs in a hospital patient and is not associated with the health issue or diagnosis that motivated the patient’s presentation and admission to the hospital. Most patient infections that occur 48 hours or more after admission are classified as hospital-acquired infections.
A hospital-acquired infection that goes untreated may eventually lead to a patient suffering from sepsis, a condition that can damage internal organs and potentially cause death.
How Do Hospital-Acquired Infections Occur?
Hospital-acquired infections are common due to the wide variety of bacteria in hospital settings, combined with the fact that many admitted patients have stressed or weakened immune systems, which allow viruses and bacteria to take hold.
The likelihood of a hospital-acquired infection occurring typically depends on three categories of risk factors:
- Patient risk factors, such as the length of a patient’s hospitalization, the severity of the illness or health condition that the patient was admitted for, and their overall health and immune system condition
- Organizational risk factors, or the condition of the hospital, including cleanliness and sterilization and the concentration of patient beds
- Staff risk factors, including the skill with which they provide care as well as how often staff wash their hands or engage in cross-contamination behaviors
Liability for Hospital-Acquired Infections
Not every hospital-acquired infection will give rise to a medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice claim requires proving that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers failed to treat a patient in accordance with the applicable standard of care. This legal standard recognizes that not every adverse outcome to medical treatment can be anticipated or prevented. A medical malpractice case arising from a hospital-acquired infection will require extensive investigation into how the infection occurred, whether it was timely identified and treated, and whether the infection could have been prevented altogether through different actions by hospital staff.
The parties who can be held liable for a hospital-acquired infection will also depend on who caused the infection. For example, if it is determined that a doctor is responsible for a patient’s infection, the hospital may not have liability if it has an independent contractor relationship with the doctor rather than an employer-employee relationship.
In a successful medical malpractice case involving hospital-acquired infection, a harmed patient may be able to recover compensation for expenses and losses such as:
- Additional medical care is needed to treat the infection
- Lost income due to the additional time spent hospitalized to treat the infection
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life due to disfigurement to reduced life expectancy caused by complications from an infection, such as sepsis
Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Hospital-Acquired Infection Case in New Jersey
Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Haddonfield hospital-acquired infection attorneys at The Law Offices of Andres & Berger P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Pennsauken, Voorhees, Lindenwold, and Collingswood. Call us today at (856) 795-1444 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 264 Kings Hwy. E., Haddonfield, NJ 08033.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.