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| Paulson & Nace

When a patient with an already weakened immune system acquires an infection in the hospital, devastating consequences can result. Luckily, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study team recently revealed that the rate of this happening is decreasing. Today, approximately 3.2 percent of patients admitted to a hospital get an infection, while in 2011, this rate was at four percent. While these may sound like small numbers, understand that four percent of the total number of U.S. hospital patients in 2011 accounted for nearly 650,000 individuals.

The CDC study team, which analyzed 12,299 patients from 200 hospitals around the country for this survey, also concluded that the three most common hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are pneumonia, gastrointestinal (GI) infections, and surgical-site infections. While it is promising to hear the news of a decreased rate of HAIs, our hospitals still have a long way to go. While a 20 percent reduction in infection rates might sound promising, the needlessness of HAIs themselves makes many of the cases that much more tragic.

Recently, nine children died at a single medical facility in New Jersey due to an adenovirus outbreak. Sixteen additional pediatric cases have been confirmed, eleven of which remained sick as of October 28. While adenoviruses usually only cause mild conditions in children, the severely compromised immune systems of those hospitalized made fighting the infection difficult.

In another case a premature baby died due to a bacterial infection it acquired while in the prenatal intensive care unit. The subsequent investigation of the facility led to the discovery of multiple deficiencies in infection prevention and control—including basic sanitation measures such as proper hand hygiene.

This comes just months after it was revealed that Medstar Washington Hospital Center, known for one of the largest trauma centers in our nation’s capital, had bacteria-filled sewage leaks in some of the operating rooms for months. One 70-year-old patient, Carol Leonard, died from a post-operative infection within a week of being admitted to the hospital for what was supposed to be a routine, low-risk thyroid surgery.

When someone is admitted to a hospital, an infection attacking their potentially already weakened immune system can be deadly.  If you believe that you or someone you love has been a victim of medical negligence that has led to an HAC due, consider reaching out to an attorney to discuss potential legal action that can be taken on your behalf.

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