If you’ve ever been more concerned about contracting an illness at a health care facility instead of being healed, you’re not alone. Infections contracted at the hospital or another health care facility are called “nosocomial infections.” Related symptoms can start to appear soon after being admitted for a non-related reason or as many as 30 days after an operation or hospital stay.
According to the CDC, 1 in 25 people acquire a hospital-related infection during their stay. In 2011, at least 722,000 documented nosocomial infections occurred in US hospitals. Roughly 75,000 of those documented infections resulted in death. Here are the most common hospital acquired infections listed by the CDC, the number of individuals affected by the illness in 2011, and some tips for minimizing the risk.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia occurs in ventilator-assisted patients, after operations, and in other patients who stay in the hospital. The illness is most commonly caused by gram-negative bacilli or staphylococcus aureus. Depending on the particular strain, some cases are considered antibiotic resistant. The rate of recovery is contingent on the reason for the hospital stay. In patients on ventilators, sitting in an upright position can reduce the likelihood of contraction.
Surgery-site infections (157,500)
Considering that more than 30 million individuals have surgical procedures done each year, the risk of contracting a surgical-site infection is relatively low. In fact, these affect roughly 2-5% of those patients. However, contracting an infection can prolong recovery times or have life altering consequences. Patients have the greatest influence on preventing a surgical site infection when they choose a health care facility and practice group. Look at reviews and ratings for health care facilities before agreeing to a procedure. If possible, take measures to boost your immune system to fight off any infections prior to hospital admission.
Gastrointestinal Illness (123,100)
The most common GI related illness from a hospital stay is caused by the bacterial known as “c.diff” or clostridium difficile. It builds up in patients who have imbalances in their intestines. We all have good bacteria in our guts that normally fight off bacteria like c.diff, but antibiotics, illness, and hospital procedures can increase the risk of a more serious infection. C.diff is responsible for thousands of deaths in the country each year. Patients can wash their hands frequently and encourage their doctors and nurses to do the same to avoid gastrointestinal illness in the hospital.
Other infections (118,500)
Many other infections are responsible for a large portion of hospital-acquired infections each year. Each may result from negligence or unforeseen variables. Common health practices like washing hands, avoiding touching the eyes and face, and using antibacterial gels can all significantly reduce the risk.
Urinary Tract Infections (93,300)
Hospital-acquired UTIs are typically caused by hospital use of urinary catheters. As many as 25% of those admitted to hospitals receive catheterization during their stays. Most UTIs caused by catheters arise from prolonged use. Family members and hospital patients can ask questions about the length of use and request removal as soon as possible to prevent hospital-acquired UTIs.
Primary Bloodstream infection (71,900)
One of the most common bloodstream infections is central line-associated bloodstream infection from catheterization. These cause several deaths every year, but are highly preventable. Following hygienic compliance protocols during the insertion and removal process and avoiding prolonged use can both significantly reduce the likelihood of contraction.
If you were diagnosed with any illness as a result of your hospital stay, filing a legal malpractice suit may help you hold the practitioner and health care facility accountable and provide the compensation you need for recovery. Contact our medical malpractice attorney at The Benton Law Firm for more information.