When you have to stay in the hospital, you expect to get healthy, not come home with an additional infection. The technical term for this situation is a nosocomial infection, which develops after you are under medical care. Could you be at risk when you go to the hospital?
What are hospital-acquired infections?
Nosocomial infections are caused by bacteria, fungus or viruses. E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus are two of the bacteria that commonly cause many hospital-acquired infections. Typically, person-to-person contact spreads these infectious agents, but unclean medical instruments can also serve as a method of transmission. Symptoms can include discharge from a wound, fever, cough, nausea or diarrhea.
Just being admitted to a health care facility increases your chance of becoming infected. Other factors can compound your risk:
- Being admitted to the ICU
- Needing a catheter or other internal medical device
- Age (as you get older, you are more susceptible to infections)
- Roommates in the hospital
- Antibiotic use in the past and present
- Being in a coma
- Experiencing shock
- Past traumas
- A compromised immune system
Preventing nosocomial infections
The FDA places the responsibility of infection control on the health care facility. It is important that each health care provider uses best practices when treating you. Observing appropriate hand hygiene and wearing the proper gear during treatment are two important methods, but the facility should also have good ventilation and cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of infections. Question your health care provider if you are concerned about infection prevention.
If you believe that you developed a nosocomial infection during a hospital stay, you may have added expenses due to its treatment. Many hospital-acquired infections are preventable. You should not suffer due to the failing of the facility. You might want to speak to a personal injury lawyer about your claim to ensure your medical bills are taken care of.