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Hospital Infections

When Hospital Infections Should Have Been Prevented

At Rush & Gransee, L.C., we receive many telephone and email inquiries regarding potential medical malpractice cases concerning infections that were either acquired in a hospital setting. Because of the nature of an inpatient hospital setting, the potential for infections always exist. When evaluating a potential case of malpractice arising from a patient contracting an infection, it is necessary to thoroughly investigate all facts surrounding the patient's hospital stay.

Often, infections will lead to and cause the original medical condition that was being treated to become more difficult to manage, and may even result in death. Therefore, if infection is contracted by a patient the initial steps of the investigation center on the reason a patient was in the hospital to begin with. Further analysis must be undertaken concerning any risk factors the patient may have had for contracting an infection. Most importantly, an investigation and evaluation of the hospital's policies and procedures in place to reduce infection must be examined.

A determination must be made as to whether the hospital had a sufficient infection control plan, whether the nursing staff and physicians in the hospital followed the policies and procedures, and/or whether any other explanation exists as the reason the patient contracted an infection. There certainly can be times when a hospital is not medically negligent and did all that is reasonably required to prevent infections; however, even in this situation a hospital and medical staff may be at fault for not quickly diagnosing and treating the infection which thereby leads to further problems for the patient.

In order to establish that malpractice was the cause of or contributed to an infection in a hospital, one needs to establish that an error was committed pertaining to the policies and procedures implemented to reducing infection exposure, or the failure to promptly recognize that an infection has developed; these errors must have been such that a reasonable hospital (infection plan in place and properly executed) would not have allowed them to occur, or, once identified, that aggressive treatment was started promptly; and the error must have been the cause of any resulting damages or injuries to the patient.

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