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Can you claim medical malpractice for hospital-acquired infections?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Hospitals are facilities where patients go to receive treatment for their various ailments. While these locations are associated with healing and recovery, they’re also places where patients can contract various infections.

These hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) can occur due to exposure to pathogens in the hospital environment. They often complicate recovery and sometimes lead to severe health issues or even death.

Common HAIs

Patients can contract the following common infections in the hospital. They are:

  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): A type of bacteria resistant to many antibiotics, MRSA can lead to skin infections, bloodstream infections, or pneumonia
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff): This bacterium causes severe diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis
  • Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI): Infections that occur when bacteria enter the bloodstream through a central line, a tube placed in a large vein to administer medication or fluids
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI): These occur when germs enter the urinary tract through a catheter during its insertion or while it’s in place
  • Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP): Pneumonia that develops in people on a ventilator

These infections can be serious, prolonging hospital stays, increasing medical costs, and in some cases, leading to long-term health issues or mortality.

Filing for medical malpractice

In California, patients who contract HAIs may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Patients will have to prove their infection resulted from their doctor’s negligence. A lawsuit will allow a patient to recover noneconomic losses such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment and disfigurement.

To file a claim, a patient must prove several factors. Namely:

  • Duty of care: There was a doctor-patient relationship, which established a duty of care.
  • Breach of duty: There was a breach of the standard of care by healthcare professionals.
  • Clear causation: This breach directly caused the infection.
  • Actual resulting damages: The infection caused damages, such as additional medical expenses, pain and suffering, or loss of income.

Patients considering a malpractice claim should prepare for a complex process involving a possible trial. If this happens, they might want to retain legal counsel. A personal injury attorney with medical malpractice experience can evaluate the specifics of a patient’s case and help them throughout the lawsuit process.