According to a 2011 estimate from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 hospitalized patients acquire an infection, and roughly 722,000 hospital-acquired infections result in or contribute to 75,000 deaths each year in the United States. Of these, a substantial portion contribute to the 400,000 or so deaths caused each year by hospital medical errors. According to the CDC, hospital-acquired infections are often preventable, but due to mismanagement and negligent policy implementation, they continue to flourish in U.S. hospitals.
At the federal level, hospitals are required to report on six different kinds of infection. These are: central line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs); catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs); surgical site infections (SSIs) from abdominal hysterectomy; SSIs from colon surgery; Clostridium difficile infections; and, most commonly, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia (bloodstream infections). All of these infections can result in life-threatening health problems.
A 2011 article in the New England Journal of Medicine emphasized the problem of hospital-acquired infections. The article suggests that while transmission of infections in hospitals has decreased in previous decades, hospitals should be doing better. Hospital personnel should be more diligent with hand-washing routines and follow more stringent sterilization procedures when treating patients. One of the article’s authors argues that U.S. hospitals only become attentive to proper procedures when faced with new and highly publicized outbreaks. Instead, they should be focusing on reducing the number of infections caused by well-known bacteria, which often tend to do more damage than novel threats like the Ebola virus.
Hospital-acquired infections are more difficult to measure and stop when hospitals underreport or fail to report instances of infection. Currently, hospitals are disincentivized to report infection, as high rates of hospital-acquired infections can result in strict regulatory measures and penalties from the federal government.
The attorneys at Lopez McHugh are committed to helping victims of medical malpractice. If you believe that you or a loved one acquired a hospital-related infection during an outbreak because of improper hospital management, contact us for a free consultation. You may be eligible to receive compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.