Following a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study of hospital-acquired
infections (HAIs), Fox News reported on September 4, 2013, that HAIs affect
between five and 10 percent of hospitalized patients each year, cause
about 99,000 deaths each year, and cost $9.8 billion to treat each year.
Surgical site infections of the skin, tissues, or organs account for 34
percent of that $9.8 billion, and, according to the CDC, “develop
in about 1 to 3 of every 100 patients who have surgery.” Bloodstream
infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia,
Clostidium difficile infection (C. diff), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs) round out the
five most common HAIs.

“These infections are almost all preventable,” says the Committee
to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID). “According to the CDC, at least
half of hospital infections could be prevented if caregivers clean their
hands immediately before touching patients.”

Thus, doctors are supposed to:

  • wash their hands and forearms with an antiseptic prior to operating;
  • wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based product such as
    Purell both before and after caring for a patient; and
  • wear masks, gowns, gloves, and something to cover their hair during surgery.

Unfortunately, says RID, “Most hospitals tell doctors and nurses
to clean their hands, yet doctors break this fundamental rule 52 percent
of the time, on average.”

Doctors are also supposed to:

  • use electric clippers rather than a razor to rid a patient of hair that
    may get in the way of a procedure;
  • clean the surgical site with germ-killing soap;
  • administer antibiotics; and
  • ensure that a patient understands everything that he or she will need to
    know in order to care for the wound until it heals.

While the burden of proof in malpractice cases falls on the plaintiff,
“the plaintiff’s attorney could argue that infection is evidence
enough that the hospital breached its duty,” says RID.

If you’ve contracted a hospital-acquired infection as the result
of a treatment, procedure, surgery, or stay at a hospital, doctor’s
office, or other healthcare facility, an experienced
medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you recover monetary damages to cover treatment,
any further surgery that may be needed, and other medical expenses. You
could also recover funds for lost wages from additional time you were
forced to take away from work, pain and suffering, psychological trauma,
and mental anguish.

If you have a question about a hospital-acquired infection, attorney
Chris Mellino welcomes you to
contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also
download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a medical malpractice
claim in Ohio.