Imagine you are a patient who’s receiving treatment for a medical problem in a Tennessee hospital. However, you contract a serious infection as a result of the medical negligence of your doctor or hospital. What are your rights?
Also known as nosocomial infections, healthcare-acquired infections are infections that patients contract while receiving medical care. They range in seriousness from mild to deadly and account for many unexpected health complications and deaths in the United States each year. One common HAI is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is a type of staph infection that does not respond to traditional antibiotics.
How do HAIs occur?
HAIs can occur when medical personnel does not properly wash their hands or use appropriate sterile procedures. They can also occur when equipment does not get properly disinfected between uses. Patients can become infected if they’re exposed to the bacteria or viruses that cause these infections. In some cases, the overall hospital environment can be a source of contamination. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for patients to contract an infection from contact with another patient’s bed sheets or medical equipment.
Medical malpractice and HAIs
If you contract an HAI as a result of medical negligence, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is a legal action that seeks to hold the doctor or hospital responsible for their actions (or lack thereof). A medical malpractice lawsuit can provide compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Just remember that the first step is to seek medical attention. After that, report the infection to your doctor and file a medical malpractice claim if necessary.
How hospitals can minimize HAIs
One important way is to ensure that all medical personnel follows proper hygiene procedures. This includes washing their hands regularly and using sterile equipment when appropriate. Hospitals should also have rigorous protocols for disinfecting medical equipment between uses. Patients can help protect themselves and others by being conversant with infection prevention and by being alert to the signs and symptoms of an infection.
If you or a loved one has contracted a healthcare-acquired infection, it’s important to seek medical help right away. Just remember that in the event of medical negligence, you may have legal recourse.