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What to Know About Hospital-Acquired Infections

If you need to stay at a hospital, you’re most likely in a vulnerable state, depending on doctors, nurses, and other practitioners to provide potentially life-saving care. But did you know that hospital-acquired infections are the leading cause of preventable death and disability among hospitalized patients? The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about 1 in 31 inpatients have an HAI at any given time, leading to tens of thousands of deaths yearly. 

If you or your loved one develop a hospital-acquired infection (also called a healthcare-acquired infection or HAI), you may be entitled to compensation. To obtain this, you or your attorney must prove that the hospital or medical team made errors that caused the infection. 

The Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at Snyder Law Group, LLC have helped countless clients recover hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for injuries sustained because of careless doctors, nurses, and other bad actors. You do not have to go through this alone. Our advocates are standing by to help you pursue justice and recover due compensation. 

What Causes Patients to Contract Healthcare-Acquired Infections?

Patients undergoing surgery or needing emergency care are at the hospital because they require potentially life-saving care. Unfortunately, having to go to and stay at the hospital puts them at risk of developing an HAI during their stay. 

According to the National Library of Medicine’s publication, Hospital Acquired Infectionsthe following are common risks of patients developing HAIs:

  • Poor hygiene of the medical team
  • The medical team’s failure to properly sterilize the hospital room or tools
  • Inadequate infection control practices at the facility
  • The length of the patient’s stay
  • The reason the patient is in the hospital (some conditions carry a greater risk of infection than others)
  • The health of the medical team, visitors, and surrounding patients

The publication also indicates that patients have a higher risk of developing an infection if they have multiple visits to the hospital in a short period of time. For example, patients who are given antibiotics through an IV while at a hospital have a greater risk of developing treatment-resistant infections within 90 days afterward. Poor staffing and training can also lead to errors that cause patients to develop healthcare-acquired infections. 

Common Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Many types of bacteria can be the culprit for inpatient infections, including Clostridium difficileEnterobacteriaceae, and staph aureus. These are just some of the many types of bacteria that may cause patients to suffer during or because of a hospital stay. 

As discussed by the publication Hospital Acquired Infections, the source of these infections may be:

  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Central-line bloodstream infections
  • Infected surgical sites
  • Pneumonia 
  • Bed sores (such as those developed by nursing home residents)

Patients who develop these infections may experience various symptoms, ranging from a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and soreness to sepsis and even death. 

Is a Healthcare-Acquired Infection Proof of Medical Malpractice?

In some cases, you may be the victim of hospital negligence or medical malpractice if you acquire an infection at the hospital or an inpatient facility. Whether this is the case depends on the surrounding circumstances and applicable law. 

Under Maryland law, healthcare providers owe their patients an obligation to act as a reasonable medical professional would under the circumstances. The scope and nature of the duty depend on factors such as the relationship with the patient, the doctor’s or hospital’s experience, and the events leading to the patient developing the infection. Washington, DC, has a similar medical malpractice law. 

To prove that your HAI is the product of medical malpractice, you must show that the healthcare provider was negligent, i.e., they did not act reasonably under the circumstances. The other elements are that you suffered a hospital-acquired infection or injury and that the cause of the HAI or condition is negligence. You can prove the causation element by showing that, had the provider acted correctly, it’s likely that you would not have gotten the HAI or suffered an injury. 

One of the ways you can prove the elements of negligence is by calling a medical expert to testify about the proper course of action under the circumstances. For example, they might testify that the doctor should have followed a particular protocol when closing up your surgical site or that they misidentified signs of a potential infection. A Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your case and help you determine if you may have a claim against the at-fault doctor, nurse, hospital, surgeon, or another healthcare worker. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Hospital-Acquired Infection? 

As you consider your options, please note that you must file your medical malpractice claim within a certain amount of time. If you fail to do so, the law may bar you from filing a claim against the at-fault party. 

In Maryland, the deadline to file a lawsuit, called a statute of limitations, is three to five years, depending on when the malpractice occurred or when you discovered it. Washington, DC’s law has similar restrictions. Exceptions may apply, such as a disability, that shorten or lengthen the applicable deadline. An attorney can help you meet this critical deadline and determine if any exceptions apply. 

What Compensation Can I Receive If I Suffered a Healthcare-Acquired Infection at a Maryland Hospital?

If you prevail in a lawsuit against a negligent healthcare provider, you may be eligible to receive economic and non-economic damages under Maryland law. Each of these categories of damages reimburses you for a different aspect of your suffering. 

As the name suggests, economic damages compensate you for the financial loss associated with the HAI, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Injury-related home-modifications
  • Lost wages

In contrast, non-economic damages provide monetary relief for the human cost of your injuries, such as the pain and suffering you experience. 

Because Maryland has unique rules and requirements that injury victims must follow (such as submitting the claim to an arbitration panel), the best practice is to consult a medical malpractice attorney. They can help you understand and meet these requirements so you do not miss your opportunity to hold the negligent provider accountable for the harm they caused you. 

Contact The Snyder Law Group Today

The Snyder Law Group, LLC proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore attorneys understand the frustration of an insurance company, medical professional, or other party refusing to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior. You can take heart in knowing talented and knowledgeable lawyers are ready to work for you. We have years of experience handling personal injury claims from medical malpractice or damages resulting from serious car and truck accidents. Our firm has secured hundreds of millions in verdicts and settlements. Please visit our website,, or call us at 410-843-3476 for more information. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Call 410-THE-FIRM. Don't just sue them. SNYDER THEM

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2023 at 6:57 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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