The Hospital Gift Nobody Wants: Infection

The last thing you expect to get in a hospital is an additional medical complication in the form of infection.  Hospital acquired infections, also known as Nosocomial infections, strike about two million Americans annually, constituting about ten percent of hospital visits. According to estimates from the American Medical Association, 80,000 Americans die each year from Nosocomial infections.

It is crucial for patients to be informed about their hospital care so they can be proactive in advocating for themselves in the event they develop an additional infection.

Some of the most common Nosocomial infections include:

  • Clostridium difficile, (c. diff.)
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Patients generally get c.diff. after swallowing the infectious spores from the air and then taking other medications that, as a side effect, empty out the stomach of the normal resident bacteria. C.diff fills the bacterial vacuum left in the stomach, leading to diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms. Left unchecked, c.diff. can lead to more dangerous conditions as well.

UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, the kidneys or the bladder.  A UTI can result, in some instances, if a catheter is not handled properly or is left inside the urinary tract for too long. Fortunately, most UTIs are treatable with antibiotics.  Some, however, can have dangerous complications.

MRSA is a bacterial infection that is stubbornly resistant to most antibiotics.  As a result, treatment is very difficult and often involves powerful drugs with unpleasant side effects.  MRSA starts out looking like little bumps on the skin, which develop into boils or abscesses filled with pus. It most commonly affects the nostrils, the respiratory track, open wounds anywhere on the body, and the urinary track. Left untreated, MRSA can spread systemically and lead to infections that are more serious or even death.

In order to protect your health and your rights, it is important to know what you’re dealing with, and be as proactively involved in your hospital treatment as you can. If you or a family member thinks you may have gotten an infection from the hospital or other medical context, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your treatment history and evaluate your case.

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