For the last couple of years, many of Chicago’s hospitals have been overrun with patients. This has made it difficult for medical professionals to ensure that they’re providing adequate care to their patients. This is no excuse for medical malpractice, though, which can take many forms. One way that this malpractice can present is through hospital-acquired infections.
What are hospital-acquired infections?
Hospital-acquired infections are illnesses patients can get when in the hospital for a medical procedure or surgery. People of all ages can get infections while at the hospital, but some are more vulnerable such as the elderly, very young children and individuals who are immunocompromised.
If a person gets a hospital-acquired infection after a procedure, they are more likely to end up staying in the hospital several days longer. They’re also more likely to be readmitted for the illness and have double the risk of dying.
What are the most common hospital-acquired infections?
When a person gets an infection from being in the hospital, they’re more likely to get certain types. Patients who have surgery are more likely to get surgical site infections. This can happen when the surgeon or other medical professionals assisting in the surgery don’t properly sterilize instruments or wash their hands. This can be deadly.
Urinary tract infections are common and usually affect women or elderly patients. They can develop when there are medical errors made with catheters. Sometimes, the patient develops a UTI due to being in the same position for long periods of time for consecutive days.
Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia are another common type of hospital-acquired infection. It can affect anyone of any age but is most common in elderly patients or babies. Sadly, many patients in the hospital can end up developing pneumonia and suffer serious consequences. While some may recover, others might die.
Sepsis is one of the deadliest hospital-acquired infections. It’s most common among patients admitted to the ICU and can lead to organ failure and even death. Often, other infections, chronic illnesses or injuries can lead to sepsis.
Prevalence rates rising
Sadly, the coronavirus outbreak has led to a spike in hospital-acquired infections. There may be several contributing factors, such as reusing personal protective equipment and wearing two gowns when interacting with patients. Staffing shortages have likely played a role, too, since many hospitals have actually suspended their infection control measures. This has left patients at risk of acquiring infections such as central-line associated bloodstream infections, catheter-related urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections.
What can prevent hospital-acquired infections?
Hospital-acquired infections can be prevented when healthcare workers practice proper hygiene. Washing their hands with water and soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be done before handling patients.
Catheters must be used carefully and removed promptly. Patients’ skin should be clean when catheters are inserted. Medical professionals should wear masks, gloves, gowns and covers over their hair for patients’ protection.
We all understand that hospitals and their workers have been under a lot of stress lately. But that’s no excuse to put innocent patients’ lives at risk. That’s why errant doctors, nurses, and hospitals need to be held accountable. So, if you’ve been affected by a hospital-acquired infection and want to learn more about your next steps, then please consider reaching out to someone who is experienced in this area of the law.