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Hospitals may be liable for infections that patients contract

Something many hospitals struggle with is preventing patients from contracting infections. If a patient contracts an infection in a hospital, their health can worsen quickly.

When a hospital stay results in an infection, it's not always clear who is legally liable. One good way to look at it is understanding if the hospital is following the correct protocols for sanitation and patient safety.

What are the patient risk factors for acquiring an infection in the hospital?

Patients face a few risk factors including:

  • Organizational risk factors, such as the cleanliness of the hospital, the HVAC system and filtration, the sterility of medical devices and the concentration of patient beds.
  • Patient risk factors, such as the duration of the hospital stay, the individual's immune system and the severity of the illness they have when they check in.
  • Latrogenic risk factors, such as the care that the medical providers perform. This includes washing hands, using antibiotics and performing invasive procedures.

It's difficult to show how infections are transmitted, but since hospital-acquired infections develop during treatment, the hospital may be held liable. Legally, this is challenging and requires investigation into how an infection occurred.

For example, if a patient develops an infection and it's found that the tools being used to perform surgery were not properly sterilized, it may be easier to agree that the hospital is accountable for the patient's illness. On the other hand, a patient who has a long stay in the hospital, but no invasive procedures, could develop an infection that has no obvious link to their medical care.

If it can be determined that an infection should have been treatable or was preventable, then a patient's lawsuit has a chance of success. That's something you'll want to discuss with your attorney, since every case has different circumstances that have to be considered in court.

What should you do if you develop an infection in the hospital?

If you develop an infection, know that you're not alone in dealing with this situation. You deserve to receive the best medical care and to be treated for this infection. Your attorney can then help you seek compensation and hold the medical team liable if the hospital or team was responsible for causing your infection through negligence or other actions.

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