Liability for Hospital-Acquired Infections

Posted By on Mar 25, 2014 | 0 comments

People who have no business to be in a hospital are actively discouraged from going there mostly because there is always the risk of contracting a disease, especially airborne ones. In the US alone, it is estimated that every year 2.4 million people acquire one of the common types of hospital-acquired infections a year and more than 30,000 die as a result, making it one of the leading causes of death in the nation. However, contracting a disease or infection in a hospital does not mean the hospital is liable for any costs associated with hospital-acquired infections.

A plaintiff for a personal injury lawsuit against a hospital for an infection can only be upheld if the plaintiff had been a patient of the institution at the time that the infection was acquired and that acquisition was caused by a negligent act of the hospital or its staff. Getting nosocomial (originating in a hospital) infections are therefore not actionable per se; the plaintiff must prove that the hospital or its staff failed to implement or follow best measures for infection control.

Infection control best measures pertain to the sterility of instruments, materials and any surface that may make contact with the patient, especially during an invasive surgical procedure. Hand washing was the first measure adopted to stop the spread of infections in the hospital setting, and it continues to hold to this day. Proper sterilization of instruments prior to use is also standard practice, but even to this day failure to do these two basic practices is most often identified as the cause of the infection.

The hospital itself may have regulations in place but this is not enough to avoid liability for medical negligence. It is the responsibility of the hospital to ensure that employees observe and execute these preventive measures consistently. Failure to effectively enforce these regulations can render the responsible individual as well as the hospital liable for personal injury lawsuits.

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