Nearly 4.5 hospital acquired infections occur for every 100 hospital admissions in the United States each year, costing the healthcare system between $5.7 billion and $6.8 billion per year (2007). Hospital acquired infections range from mild infections to life-threatening or life-ending infections. Most hospital acquired infections are preventable.
There are many variables that affect hospital acquired infections, including certain diseases and their treatment such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease that cause patients to be at greater risk for infections and limit their immune systems ability to fight infections; medical treatments such as chemotherapy that suppresses the immune system; implantation of medical devices and the use of intravenous lines that may provide a route for bacteria and microorganisms to enter the body; and, the long term or repeated use of antibiotics that may result in infections that are more difficult to treat. Other important factors regarding the risk of someone getting an infection include prior health history, age, a history of smoking, and obesity.
Hospital acquired infections are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. They effect 1 in 20 hospitalized patients and account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths (in 2002).
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued its report entitled Health Care Associated Infections In Massachusetts Acute Care Hospitals, covering the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011. There were 72 acute care hospitals in Massachusetts during the covered period.
Massachusetts required its acute care hospitals to report hospital acquired infections beginning in 2008. During the reporting period (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011), there were 464 central line (venous catheter) associated bloodstream infections reported (265 in Fiscal Year 2010 and 199 in Fiscal Year 2011). During the same period, surgical site infections in Massachusetts decreased across the board except for vaginal hysterectomies, which increased by nine percent. Nationwide, there are between 12,000 and 28,000 central line infections in intensive care units each year, adding $16,555 to health care costs per episode.
In 2007, hospital acquired infections in Massachusetts cost the state between $200 million and $400 million (a 2009 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the direct costs for treating hospital acquired infections in the United States per year was between $35.7 billion and $45 billion). If hospitals adhere to certain practices, certain hospital acquired infections could be reduced by as much as 70%.
Hospital acquired infections not only cost us billions of dollars per year in the United States, they also result in much unnecessary pain and suffering for the patients who acquire preventable infections while in hospitals and they cause much mental anguish for their families. Furthermore, if a patient’s hospital stay needs to be extended to treat a hospital-acquired infection, that patient may needlessly be exposed to the risk of additional hospital acquired infections. And necessary medical treatments for hospital acquired infections cause their own problems, which can further debilitate patients and increase the risk for permanent disability or death.
Some hospital acquired infections are due to negligence by hospital workers while others may not be due to medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one suffered from the consequences of a hospital acquired infection, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering and to reimbursement for your medical expenses and other costs, even if paid by Medicare or health insurance. Medical malpractice attorneys may be able to help answer your medical malpractice questions and help you determine if you have a valid claim for your hospital acquired infection.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate.
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