Hospitals: When a Resource Becomes a Danger

For most people, going to the hospital means receiving needed treatment for an illness, injury or condition that requires specialized medical care. While many people are nervous about hospital treatment, most expect to weather their situation and return to routine life. If exposed to hospital acquired infection (HAI), life may never again be normal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of every 20 patient hospitalized will experience infection contracted during their hospital stay. HAI are among the top ten causes of death in the United States and commonly include:

  • Infections associated with intravascular or urinary catheters
  • Surgical site infections
  • Pneumonia related to use of mechanical ventilators

As personal injury attorneys, we witness the debilitating effects HAI have on our clients, especially seniors, who struggle to regain physical stability after becoming seriously ill through exposure to HAI contagion while in the hospital.

Two particularly dangerous HAI infections include:

  • Clostridium difficile (c.difficile): Contributing to the deaths of 14,000 people per year in the United States, c.difficile is commonly acquired through medical treatment in healthcare settings. Associated with antibiotic overuse, mortality related to c.difficile is estimated to have increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007 due partially to emergence of a stronger strain of the bacteria.
  • Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE): CRE is a group of antibiotic resistant bacteria commonly found in the human gut including the well-known Escherichia coli (e.coli) bacteria. The carbapenem group of antibiotics are considered drugs of last resort against difficult infection. As the name implies, CRE bacteria have grown resistant to carbapenems, leaving the medical community with little to fight these ferocious infections

On a national and state level, HAI prevention is a public health priority. If you, or a loved one, are injured by a HAI, seek immediate medical care and then obtain legal advice from an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney.