Kathy Day, a nurse from Maine, said she has always striven to be an advocate for patients. But that drive became a passion after the death of her 83-year-old father. He died weeks after suffering a hospital-acquired infection while he was being treated for a broken leg.
After breaking the small bone in his lower leg, he spent nearly two weeks in the hospital. Upon his return home, he seemed fine, other than the fact he needed to use a walker. But the next day, he awoke and was so sick, he could barely sit up in his own bed. He had a high fever. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined he had contracted MRSA pneumonia while he’d been recovering from the leg fracture. He ended up developing sepsis, which led to organ failure.
The family later learned two other patients had died of MRSA infections following surgery. Yet at no point were patients or family members informed of the risk or of steps to take or things to watch for in order to reduce the possibility of an infection.
His death devastated Day and her family, and propelled her to become a vocal activist for reducing hospital-acquired infections. One of her biggest targets is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is a type of staph infection that is typically resistant to antibiotics.
While 30 percent of us carry staph infections in our nose, we usually don’t get sick. Most of the MRSA infections that do occur happen either at a hospital or some other health facility.
Other common hospital-acquired infections include:
- Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections
- Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections
- Surgical Site Infections (abdominal hysterectomy, colon surgery)
- C. difficile Infections
Hospital-acquired infections affect 1.7 million patients every year, and 99,000 of those die. Incidence of MRSA doubled between 1995 and 2005.
Our Bangor wrongful death attorneys know cases of injury or death resulting from post-operative infection acquired at a hospital can be difficult to pursue. That’s because despite an awful outcome, the infection may result while doctors and other health care providers were adhering to the accepted standard of care.
Most cases of hospital-acquired infection injury or death are filed on the basis the doctor or other health care provider failed to recognize and/or treat the infection in a timely manner.
Other possible grounds for litigation could be lack of informed consent. This theory would look at whether the hospital knew or should have known a patient was at high risk of developing and infection, and yet did not inform the patient and give him or her the opportunity to opt out of treatment.
Our attorneys may also look at whether hospital staff failed to properly handle or sterilize certain instruments, clothing, hands and surfaces.
And also, we will analyze whether the surgeon failed to follow acceptable care practices during the procedure by allowing debris or other contaminants to make contact with the wound.
While it is not a patient’s fault if a hospital-acquired infection occurs, there are some steps patients can make to reduce their chances of such incident. That involves:
- Asking for clean hands of doctors, nurses, other caregivers and visitors. Keep hand sanitizer by the bed and sanitary wipes to frequently wipe down touched surfaces.
- Speaking up if there is any doubt about whether someone has clean hands.
- Know your medical history, the kind of medication your taking and clearly communicate that with your doctor/caregivers.
If you have questions about whether you may have grounds for a lawsuit following a hospital-acquired infection, contact our offices today.
Contact Maine Injury Lawyer Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
10 Important Tips for Preventing Deadly Medical Errors and Infections, June 25, 2015, By Diane Atwood, Bangor Daily News
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ATV Lawsuit in Maine Filed by Family of Teen, June 6, 2015, Bangor Injury Lawyer