Many people don’t think twice about going to an emergency room when they’re injured. You may have to spend time in a hospital if you’re ill or require surgery. Hospitals aren’t always the safest places to be, though. It’s not uncommon for patients to contract other illnesses.
A more significant concern associated with hospitals is what happens pre-operatively, when you’re on the operating table and during recovery. You run a considerable risk of developing a health care-acquired infection (HAI). HAIs are infections that individuals may contract while undergoing treatment at surgical centers, hospitals or rehabilitation facilities. Nursing home residents can contract HAIs as well.
How common are HAIs?
These infections are a common phenomenon. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data suggests that at least 1.7 million Americans receive HAI diagnoses annually. An estimated 100,000 patients die from them. At least one-third of HAIs are urinary tract infections. Other standouts include surgical site, lung or bloodstream infections or pneumonia.
Individuals who acquire HAIs generally end up spending an additional week receiving treatment for their secondary illness. These same patients are five times more likely to have doctors readmit them post-discharge. They are twice as likely to die as those who don’t contract such an infection.
Risk factors for HAIs
Most anyone is susceptible to contracting an HAI, although some individuals, such as the elderly, children and patients with compromised immune systems, are more likely to do so than others.
The longer that a patient remains in the hospital or other facility, the more likely that it is that they’ll contract an HAI. Health analysts attribute this increased infection risk to health care workers’ administration of too many antibiotics, failure to replace catheters and lack of hand washing.
What to do if you contracted an HAI
Anyone who previously contracted a serious illness or underwent a surgical procedure likely understands that recovery can be an up and down process where you have your good days and bad ones. While you may expect some complications, others may be attributable to negligence. New Jersey law may allow you to hold any negligent parties liable if their actions resulted in your health decline.