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When is a Hospital-Acquired Infection Medical Malpractice?

November 19, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Patients visit a hospital when they are sick and need treatment to get better. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes a person is admitted into a hospital only to find that they contract another illness. This is often the case with hospital-acquired infections, which can be deadly.

When these infections develop, it can result in sepsis, organ failure, and even death for the patient. In some cases, hospital-acquired infections are caused by negligent practices by healthcare professionals, which gives rise to a medical malpractice claim. This isn’t always the case, however. So, how can patients know when they have a case?

What is a Hospital-Acquired Infection?

Hospital-acquired infections, also known as ‘nosocomial infections,’ are an infection that develops in a hospital environment that is not typically associated with the patient’s initial health issue. These infections are usually acquired within 48 hours of admission, although that’s not always the case.

Patients that are seriously injured or sick often have weaker immune systems, making them a higher risk for developing this type of infection. Being in a hospital for an extended period of time also increases a patient’s risk.

Hospitals and healthcare providers are also responsible for reducing the risk of patients acquiring this type of infection. Hospitals must be kept clean, and the tools and equipment used should always be sterile. Bed linens, water systems, and medical devices should always be cleaned and sterilized, to reduce the risk of patients acquiring an infection.

Healthcare providers should also always wash their hands thoroughly, use proper protocols when intubating patients, setting a catheter, or drawing blood. These are all procedures in which a patient could easily acquire an infection.

When Hospital-Acquired Infections are Medical Malpractice

It’s sometimes challenging to determine liability after a patient has developed a hospital-acquired infection that caused them severe injury or death. Many times, the hospital staff did nothing to contribute to the infection. There are times however, when medical negligence is the cause.

To determine liability, a medical malpractice attorney will first conduct an investigation to gain an understanding of the circumstances surrounding the infection. An attorney will determine if the infection could have been prevented with the proper standard of care. A lawyer is also able to determine if the healthcare professionals deviated from the standard of care, contributing to the infection.

In many cases, expert medical witnesses are used in cases involving hospital-acquired infections. These experts can provide professional opinions on whether the hospital and its staff complied with appropriate medical standards of care.

Have You Been Hurt in a Hospital? Call Our Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you or a loved one has been injured by the very people entrusted to take care of a sickness or injury, it’s important to speak to an Allentown personal injury attorney today. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know how complicated any medical malpractice case is, and we know the specific difficulties that come with proving hospital-acquired infections. We also have the experience necessary to overcome these challenges to get you the full amount of compensation you deserve. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.


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