Did you know that there are a number of nasty infections and illnesses you can catch in a hospital? According to the CDC, healthcare-associated infections affect about 5% to 10% of patients who are hospitalized in the United States each year.
Approximately 1.7 million HAIs (healthcare-associated infections) occur every year in hospitals across the United States. These infections result in 99,000 deaths every year and an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs.
Illnesses That You Can Catch in a Hospital Setting
There are a number of illnesses you can catch in a hospital. Listed below are five of them that you must be aware of and protect yourself from. Before we delve into these infections, let us brief you on what nosocomial infections are all about.
What are nosocomial infections?
A nosocomial infection is contracted due to the existence of a toxin or infection in a certain location, like a hospital. Nowadays, people use nosocomial infections interchangeably with the terms hospital-acquired infections or healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). For a HAI, a patient must not be infected before being under medical treatment.
The intensive care unit (ICU), where serious diseases are treated by doctors, is one of the wards where HAIs most commonly occur. Research shows that approximately 1 in 10 of the people who are admitted to a hospital will contract this type of infection.
As medical care grows more complex and resistance to antibiotics increases, the cases of HAIs will, without a doubt, grow. Fortunately, there can be prevention of HAIs in many healthcare situations.
Symptoms of nosocomial infections
For a HAI, the infection must be contracted:
- Up to 48 hours after being admitted to a hospital
- Up to 3 days after being discharged
- Up to 30 days after an operation has been performed
- In a healthcare facility when a patient was admitted for a condition other than the infection
Symptoms of HAIs may include:
- Discharge from a wound
- Shortness of breath, cough
- Difficulty urinating, burning sensation with urination
- Nausea, vomiting
People who develop new symptoms while staying at the healthcare facility may also experience irritation and pain at the site of the infection. A large number who contract a HAI will experience visible symptoms.
This bacterium is one of the most serious sources of hospital-acquired infections and is generally known to be the cause of a number of serious illnesses, including tuberculosis and leprosy. Mycobacterium abscessus can be found in any number of compounds and has been known to exist in water, dust, and soil. This bacterium is also known to infect medications and to live on equipment and tools that are used to perform various procedures.
This presents an extremely serious concern in the busiest medical environments in today’s world. Fortunately, a number of hospitals have procedures in place for the specific purpose of preventing the spread of mycobacterium abscessus and the potential infection of new patients who are admitted to the hospital for other ailments.
If infection from mycobacterium abscessus does develop in a patient, they are likely to notice irritation of the skin as well as soft tissues. It is important to keep in mind that a slight minority of patients may actually develop lung infections that can be very severe and serious. In almost every case of any type of infected caused by mycobacterium abscessus, patients will need to get proper medical treatment for a quick and full recovery.
This is a bacterium that is another very serious source of infections caught in a medical environment. Klebsiella is a gram-negative bacteria that almost always infects patients after they have visited a hospital – this is likely because it seems to feel at home particularly on medical equipment that is used in patient treatment areas. Infection caused by Klebsiella can lead to many serious ailments, including infection of any surgical sites or open wounds, infection of the bloodstream, or the onset of an extremely serious form of pneumonia.
Patients infected by Klebsiella are generally provided straightforward and quick treatment, although some antimicrobial strains of the bacteria have been found to require additional research and more serious treatment forms in a small minority of patients today.
Urinary tract infection
UTI, or urinary tract infection, does not sound like something you would contract in a medical setting, such as an emergency room, but you will be surprised to find out that it occurs frequently. In fact, UTI is one of the most common HAIs overall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A UTI can infect any part of the urinary tract – bladder, urethra, ureters, or kidneys – and the majority of UTIs are caused by urinary catheters. Many patients who are hospitalized receive catheters, which means that a large number of people are at risk for UTIs. Patients who contract a UTI after being admitted in a hospital can be treated with prescribed antibiotics.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
Evolving over time, this staph bacteria has become immune to many of the most commonly used antibacterial drugs used today. It is often not possible to treat MRSA with penicillin or amoxicillin. This means that more patients will require more non-traditional antibiotics in high doses in order to defeat the condition.
In the majority of patients, MRSA manifests in the form of a skin infection which needs to be treated as soon as the patient notices the first signs or symptoms. It is crucial to keep in mind that staph bacteria represent one of the most aggressive and dangerous bacterial threats to the human body.
This is another one of the most common infections that people pick up in hospitals. However, many cases are a result of ventilator use. While ushering oxygen into the body of a patient, these machines can bring in germs as well.
To help reduce the chances of pneumonia associated with ventilators, the patient’s bed must be placed at a 30- to 45-degree angle and healthcare providers should clean inside the patient’s mouth regularly, take patients off the ventilator as soon as they can breathe on their own and make sure to keep their hands washed and sanitized before and after handling a ventilator.
Legal help for HAIs
If you are suffering from any of the above illnesses you can catch at a hospital, due to the medical staff’s negligence or carelessness, you should seek the help of a medical malpractice attorney at Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A.
Medical malpractice cases are complex and can go on for a long period of time and require expertise and experience. With a reliable medical malpractice lawyer by your side, you can make sure that your rights are protected and you recover the damages you are entitled to by law.