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Hospital infection: When infections spread under a doctor's watch

Hospital-acquired infections can make any patient's injuries even worse as a result of poor healing. Many infections in hospitals are particularly resistant to antibiotics and other treatments because of their constant exposure to these methods of treatment.

Health care-associated infections are contracted by around one in 20 patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which leaves the patients open to worsening conditions. Patients are more likely to acquire these infections than the staff at a hospital due to suppressed immune systems and being in close quarters with other infected individuals. However, with good safety techniques and clean behaviors, hospital staff members can reduce the risk of acquiring an infection.

What are some common hospital-acquired infections?

One dangerous infection is the acinetobacter baumannii. This is usually found among the critically ill and in intensive care units. This bacteria can lead to blood infection, meningitis, wound infections and other complications.

Another bacteria patients could come into contact with is clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff. C. diff, which you may have heard of, causes inflammation in the colon. This can lead to diarrhea and colitis, some cases of which are life-threatening. C. diff is resistant to many kinds of cleaning products, so it's most commonly transmitted by a provider's hands. To eliminate that risk, ask your provider to change his or her gloves in front of you each time there is a procedure performed.

A third bacteria making its way into the health care setting is the clostridium sordellii bacteria. It's very rare, but it is known to cause infection in those with underlying health concerns. It can lead to endocarditis, myonecrosis and even sepsis. It's most common among women who have just given birth, had a spontaneous abortion or a medical abortion.

Lastly, a fourth and final bacteria affecting people in the hospital and health care setting is the carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae. This horrible bacteria is resistant to antibiotics of many kinds, but specifically the carbapenem. Carbpenem antibiotics are used as a final protection against an infection that doesn't respond to other antibiotics. CRE, the bacteria's shortened name, can be transferred via catheters, medical devices or human-to-human contact. Those who develop this infection may have as much as a 50 percent change of mortality.

Exposure to these bacteria is possible, but health care providers can limit the risk with good sanitation and communication. Each of the above can cause serious complications, so it's worth medical providers changing their gloves, cleaning and using sterile equipment. If you or a loved one has contracted a serious infection in a hospital, you should discuss it with a qualified attorney to see if the infection was due to medical negligence.

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