You may still be in shock. It seemed like everything was going as well as could be expected. Your loved one pulled through surgery like a champ, and you and your family were making plans for his or her care once the hospital gave a release date.
Perhaps your loved one was still hospitalized or had only been home a day or two when things suddenly took a turn for the worse. Within days, your loved one was gone, taken by an infection that raged through the body. It seems unthinkable that a place of healing could also be the place where someone could contract a deadly disease.
Common sources of hospital acquired infections
Infections are one of the leading causes of injury and death in hospitals. In most cases, they are preventable. Many Ohio hospitals have procedures and protocol for preventing the spread of infections through cleanliness and sanitation. A breach in these protocols can be devastating to those like your loved one whose immune systems are vulnerable because of illness.
The most common hospital acquired infections spread in three ways:
- By breathing infected air
- By using unsanitary devices
- By failing to follow sterilization protocol in surgery
In a building that houses sick people, you may not be surprised to learn that the air has germs. While airborne infections are not as much of a risk to hospital visitors, those with compromised immune systems can easily contract an illness through exposure in the air.
Unsanitary devices, on the other hand, are disturbingly common. The device that spreads infection most often is the catheter. If your hospital reuses catheters, there is a high chance that patients will contract infections. However, even a disposable catheter — or any invasive device — can be a danger if the nurse inserting it does not have clean, gloved hands that have not touched a contaminated surface.
Finally, open wounds in surgery are vulnerable to infection. This exposure may occur in surgery if the operating room is not properly cleaned, the surgical tools are not sanitized or the doctor does not follow protocols for maintaining a sterile environment. On the other hand, doctors or nurses providing wound cleaning or care during your loved one’s recovery may be responsible for the infection if they touched the wound with unclean hands.
The hospital may try to say the infection was the result of poor wound care at home because it is often difficult to pinpoint where a patient contracted the illness. Infections are among the most difficult medical malpractice claims to prove, so pursuing justice in this manner will mean obtaining the counsel of an attorney experienced in complex cases.