Hospital-Acquired Infections In Tennessee – Legal Options And Financial Recovery
Most medical malpractice cases arise out of some injury or illness that required admission to a hospital or medical facility. A hospital-acquired infection, however, occurs after admission, and is generally not even linked to the issues that required a medical visit to begin with.
These infections can be a shock to the patient and their family, who believed their loved one was in safe hands while under medical care. Even worse, these infections can be life-threatening or even fatal. Some, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (or “MRSA”) can lead to disfigurement or amputation of limbs.
Each year, over 1 million hospital-acquired infections occur, with about 1 in 25 U.S. hospital patients diagnosed with at least one infection related to hospital care alone. These are surprising numbers to fathom, since we assume hospitals are the most sanitary environments available to receive health care. However, the presence of harmful bacteria and the invasive medical instruments used in hospital settings can expose patients to infections they and their families never anticipated.
Whether this rises to the level of medical negligence depends on certain factors.
First, was it a “hospital-acquired infection”?
To meet this standard, the infection generally must have occurred:
- Within 48 hours of admission to the hospital
- Within 72 hours of discharge from hospital
- Within 30 days after an operation
- In a hospital setting where the person was admitted for a reason other than the infection in question.
Second, was the infection related to some act of negligence, or deviation from the standard of care by medical staff?
For this, the cause of the infection will need to be ascertained as closely as possible. A hospital-acquired infection can start in a number of ways, including:
- Exposure to bacteria and pathogens among vulnerable patients that are severely ill or have weakened immune systems. Extended hospital stays can prolong their risk.
- Improper cleaning and sterilization of medical devices, water systems, or bed linens.
- Improper filtration or purification of water.
- Failure among staff to follow safety protocols or adequately wash hands and take other health and safety precautions. Healthcare providers draw blood, insert catheters, intubate patients, and come into daily close contact with vulnerable patients.
Sometimes, an infection or bacterial exposure simply can’t be avoided, no matter what precautions the facility and its staff take. But there are a number of protocols that must be followed and when they aren’t, consequences can be dangerous for patients.
Examples of infections that could potentially be acquired while hospitalized include:
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Central line-associated bloodstream infections
- Surgical site infections
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
- Staph infections and MRSA
Proving Liability by a Medical Provider in a Tennessee Health Care Liability Claim
Determining who is liable in these situations is complicated and challenging. In most situations, the healthcare professionals and/or hospital did nothing wrong. In other situations, medical negligence is to blame. Before you can determine who is responsible, an experienced medical malpractice attorney needs to investigate the circumstances around the hospital-acquired infection. This may also involve consulting medical experts who can offer their opinion on whether the defendants complied with appropriate medical standards of care.
- The recognized standard of acceptable professional practice in the profession and the specialty thereof, if any, that the defendant practices in the community in which the defendant practices or in a similar community at the time the alleged injury or wrongful action occurred;
- That the defendant acted with less than or failed to act with ordinary and reasonable care in accordance with such standard; and
- As a proximate result of the defendant’s negligent act or omission, the plaintiff suffered injuries which would not otherwise have occurred.
Hospitals and their staff will fight hard against any allegations of negligence or misconduct, especially regarding infections. A patient or their family seeking financial compensation for a hospital-borne infection will face an almost impossible task in recovering without the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney who has fought these battles before.
Our Knoxville, Tennessee Firm Can Help You Obtain Financial Compensation After a Hospital-Acquired Infection
Enduring a dangerous infection while hospitalized is hard enough on a patient and their family. Discovering that an infection could have been avoided by following standard safety measures makes the ordeal even more difficult to bear. If you or a family member have suffered a hospital-acquired infection that resulted in injury or even death, you could be entitled to financial recovery.
These claims can be complex and require swift action and evidence-gathering. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better. Contact a Knoxville Medical Malpractice Lawyer at Atkins Brezina, PLLC , at 865-500-3121 for a no-cost consultation with a skilled and experienced Knoxville hospital infections attorney. There is no fee unless we win your case.