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Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) and what you can do about them

On Behalf of | May 20, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

When people go to the hospital, they expect to receive high quality care.  However, sometimes patients receiving treatment at hospitals can succumb to a Healthcare-associated infection (HAI).

What are healthcare-associated infections?

According to the CDC, about 1 in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection during his or her lifetime. 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 an HAI after a procedure, they are likelier to stay 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 healthcare-associated infections?

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 correctly sterilize instruments or wash their hands.

The four most common types of HAI are:

  • Urinary tract (32%): UTIs are common and usually affect women or elderly patients. They can develop when there are medical errors made with catheters. A patient can also develop a UTI due to being in the same position for a long period of time.
  • Surgical site (22%): This type of infection can occur if a hospital worker fails to wash his or her hands.
  • Lungs (15%): Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia are a common type of hospital-acquired infection.
  • Bloodstream (14%): Sepsis is among the deadliest hospital-acquired infections. It’s most common among patients admitted to the ICU and can lead to organ failure and death. Often, other infectious conditions, chronic illnesses or injuries can lead to sepsis.

These problems may be known risks of hospitalizations but may also be preventable

Infections typically are known risks of surgical procedures, meaning that they can occur even if the medical professionals involved take all reasonable steps to keep patients safe.  However, some infections occur because of medical malpractice.  Simple precautions that prevent hospital-acquired infections include the staff exercising proper hygiene, such as washing hands with water and soap or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer before handling patients. Catheters must be inserted carefully and removed as soon as possible. Patients’ skin should be clean when inserting catheters. Medical professionals should wear masks, gloves, gowns and covers over their hair for the patient’s protection.

Those who get severe infections after a medical procedure may want to discuss the details of their treatment with a medical malpractice attorney, particularly if they experience the issues or mistreatment discussed here.