Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are infections that are borne in hospital settings or environments. These are typically contracted during a hospital visit or a hospital state.
These types of infections may also be referred to as nosocomial infections. These infections are called hospital-acquired because they tend to result from hospital conditions or are associated with being contracted through an individual’s visit to the hospital.
A HAI is usually caused by hospital staff errors related to hygiene-related practices. For example, the failure to wash hands or sterilize equipment and beddings can often lead to infections.
HAI’s are commonly transferred through direct physical contact.
What Are Some Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections?
A hospital-acquired infection can come in many forms and involve numerous different types of medical conditions or issues. Common examples of hospital-acquired infections include:
- Urinary tract infections, or UTIs;
- Patient-to-patient infections through medical devices, for example, Bair Huggers or duodenoscopes;
- Various types of pneumonia, the ventilator-related and hospital-acquired types; and
- Various bacterial or fungal infections, for example, Staphylococcus aureus.
HAI’s are typically associated with a prolonged patient stay in the hospital. Some cases, however, may develop during shorter hospital visits or during outpatient procedures.
Certain infections may also be transferred directly to the patient from the hospital workers or staff. If an individual files a hospital-acquired infection lawsuit for injuries related to a HAI, they will be required to prove causation, or that the negligence of the hospital caused them to acquire the infection.
Can I File a Claim for a Hospital-Acquired Infection?
There are numerous medical malpractice claims filed every year related to hospital-acquired infections. These types of lawsuits often result in monetary damages awards that are used to reimburse the plaintiff for the additional medical costs and expenses they incurred as a result of the infection.
In many cases, a HAI has been the basis for a class action hospital negligence lawsuit when a large group of individuals was affected. In these types of cases, a hospital may be subject to various legal consequences.
This may occur if it was determined that the hospital had sub-par health and safety practices. When filing a claim for a HAI-related injury or condition, there are often two issues that are disputes, causation and damages.
This means that the plaintiff must show that their infection was caused by the actions of the hospital. In addition, the damages they suffered must be of a significant amount to be analyzed in court.
It is important to note that some states limit medical malpractice damages. This means that a plaintiff may only be able to recover up to a certain amount.
What Is Hospital Negligence?
Hospital negligence arises when a patient is injured as a result of the carelessness of the hospital or hospital staff.
Examples of errors or oversights that may constitute hospital negligence include:
A patient may suffer catastrophic effects as a result of hospital negligence, which may range from a longer healing period to a lasting disability or even death.
What Is a Hospital Negligence Lawyer?
A hospital negligence lawyer is a type of attorney who represents clients that have suffered injuries as a result of hospital carelessness.
These types of lawyers research the facts behind their client’s injury, collect evidence, and construct a case to hold the hospital or hospital employees accountable for their negligent conduct. The lawyer can also negotiate with hospital legal staff or file a case in court, if necessary.
Hospital negligence attorneys usually have knowledge of the medical standards of care and processes that are involved in specific types of cases.
They will collaborate with medical specialists to:
- Examine medical records;
- Examine the evidence; and
- Identify the source of a patient’s injuries.
In addition, a hospital negligence lawyer can provide their clients with assistance and guidance throughout the legal process. This helps ensure their rights are safeguarded and their case is handled with attention to detail and care.
How Do I Prove Hospital Negligence?
It may be difficult and time-consuming to prove hospital negligence because it requires showing that the hospital or hospital employees breached their duty of care and that the violation caused the patient to suffer an injury.
There are several elements a plaintiff must prove in order to show hospital negligence occurred, including:
- Duty of care: The hospital or healthcare provider must owe the patient a duty of care. This means they were responsible for providing care that satisfied particular quality and safety criteria;
- Breach of duty: The hospital or healthcare provider must have acted in a negligent manner. This means that they failed to deliver care that fulfilled the quality and safety requirements they were required to offer;
- Causation: The patient’s injuries must have been caused by a breach of duty by the hospital or their healthcare practitioner. This means that the patient would not have been injured if the hospital or healthcare practitioner had given treatment that did not meet the required standards;
- Damages: As a consequence of the hospital’s or healthcare provider’s breach of duty, the patient must have suffered an injury.
Due to the fact that these types of cases involve medical knowledge and skill, they may be complex and difficult to prove. A hospital negligence lawyer can assist an individual with navigating their case and building a compelling case on their behalf.
What Are the Defenses to a Claim of Hospital Negligence?
It is important for an individual to be aware that when they file a hospital negligence claim, the hospital and its legal team may raise several defenses to their claims.
These may include:
- Contributory negligence: The hospital may claim that the patient’s own activities or carelessness contributed to the injury they experienced;
- Lack of causation: The hospital may claim that its acts or omissions did not cause the patient’s injury or that the harm would have happened even if it had not acted;
- Lack of duty: The hospital may claim that it did not owe the patient a duty of care or that it provided care that reached the required standard of care;
- Statute of limitations: The hospital may argue that the patient waited too long to file their claim and that it is now limited by the statute of limitations; and
- Immunity: Under certain regulations or laws, a hospital may be immune from liability.
A lawyer for hospital negligence can prepare to counter these defenses by:
- Studying the patient’s medical records;
- Interviewing witnesses; and
- Consulting with medical specialists.
Having a lawyer’s assistance is important because they can predict the defenses the hospital will assert and have a plan to defeat them. They can also preserve evidence that supports the patient’s claim.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Hospital-Acquired Infection?
A hospital-acquired infection may lead to a serious medical condition or injury. It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you believe you have been injured as a result of a HAI.
Your attorney can provide you with legal advice as well as help you complete any necessary documents or forms. Your attorney can also advise you regarding the personal injury laws in your state and whether there are any limits on medical malpractice damages that may apply in your case.