Suffered a Preventable Infection from Medical Negligence in NJ?
There are a vast array of reasons why you may head to the hospital or another medical facility in New Jersey. When you need medical care for an illness or injury, have to undergo surgery or another medical procedure, are delivering your baby, or have a medical emergency, your expectation is that the hospital is the place to find help. Sadly, hospitals today are also the source of serious infections and illnesses.
What’s worse? Many of these infections are entirely preventable through stringent sterilization and infection-prevention protocols that hospitals simply fail to put in place or fail to enforce among their employees. If you contracted an infection in a New Jersey hospital, it is vital to understand the current situation and what you can do to obtain compensation for your suffering. For additional information and to discuss your specific infection malpractice case, contact the New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group today at 973-435-4551 or fill out our online form to receive a free case evaluation.
How Often do People Get Infections in the Hospital?
According to estimates from the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 31 patients acquires an infection at a hospital every day in the United States. Some estimates are significantly higher than these. In fact, the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) reports that the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is spreading rapidly in the U.S., occurs in approximately 880,000 hospital patients each year. This data, based on a large study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, is significantly higher than data reported by the CDC.
Most Common Hospital Infections in New Jersey
What are the most common infections contracted in New Jersey hospitals? Some of the leading types of infections in hospitals in NJ include:
- Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile)
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Central line-associated bloodstream infection; and
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
Each of these common hospital-acquired infections is explained in greater detail below.
Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile)
Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) is a common bacteria in hospitals that is often acquired by patients taking antibiotics. Approximately 5% of people have C. difficile present in their gastrointestinal tracts. However, the bacteria is typically maintained at safe levels by the other types of bacteria in the GI system. Antibiotics can disrupt this delicate balance, allowing the C. difficile to advance and become dangerous. When this bacteria overwhelms the intestinal tract, it can cause severe diarrhea and colon infections that can be fatal.
Also known as “staph,” this infection typically occurs when a patient has recently undergone surgery or has an open wound. If the infection enters the body, it can lead to a severe surgical site infection that affects the skin or travels to the tissues or organs. Negligent postoperative care, including failure to regularly change dressings or to maintain a clean surgical incision area, is often the cause of staph infections that can endanger patients’ lives.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a specific type of staph infection that may not be effectively treated with antibiotics. Often called a “superbug,” MRSA is a potentially deadly infection that is particularly dangerous if it enters the bloodstream. MRSA bacteria typically spreads through contaminated hands and objects that have not been sterilized. In 2016, 6% of the New Jersey hospitals that reported their incidence of MSRA events had a significantly higher rate of these infections than the national average.
Central line-associated bloodstream infection
A central line-associated bloodstream infection occurs when a central line (a tube inserted in a large vein) is improperly inserted by a medical professional or becomes contaminated without proper cleaning. When bacteria enters a central line, this can lead to a serious blood infection. Infections in the blood can progress to sepsis, which may ultimately result in septic shock and death.
Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (UTI)
Another common form of hospital-acquired infection is a urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by an improperly inserted catheter, a urinary catheter that is not kept clean, or a catheter that has not be changed for a prolonged period. When bacteria enters the urinary tract through a catheter, it can cause an infection that spreads to the bladder and/or the kidneys.
What to do if you Acquire an Infection at an NJ Hospital
Going to the hospital should help you get better – not make you sick. Unfortunately, countless patients contract infections at hospitals in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. on an annual basis. In many of these cases, medical malpractice and hospital negligence are the source of these infections, causing preventable harm.
By instituting proper infection prevent protocols, including sterilization of surgical instruments and environments, regular hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting common areas and hospital rooms, and maintaining clean wounds and surgical sites, hospitals can prevent infections from developing and spreading. Failure to do so may constitute medical negligence. To discuss your potential hospital infection claim with an experienced attorney at our New Jersey Medical Negligence Law Firm, contact us now at 973-435-4551.
You can access the most recent data pertaining to infection rates in New Jersey hospitals here.