Are Hospital-Acquired Staph Infections on the Rise?

After a recent decline in one type of serious hospital-acquired patient infection, recent evidence shows that this largely preventable condition may be on the climb once more.

Hospital-acquired infections are not rare but often can be life-threatening.  Such infections are the direct result of medical treatment patients receive.  They include:

·         Surgical site infections – occur in the part of the body that was operated on and can spread throughout the body to harm organs

·         Urinary tract infections – typically transferred to a patient from an unclean urinary catheter

·         Blood infections – found in some patients who are administered medicine with a central line

Hospital-Acquired Infections are Preventable

If not caught early, hospital-acquired infections can be fatal.  They all are preventable because they are due to improper cleaning and handling of medical devices, or healthcare providers who do not follow hygienic protocols.  It’s often as simple as thorough and consistent hand-washing.

Most are typically treatable as well, with proper antibiotics.

But another type of hospital-acquired infection is often life-threatening because it cannot be treated with most antibiotics.

Hospital patients can suffer a staph infection as a result of surgery or from dirty medical devices used during other treatment. Those receiving a surgical implant are especially at risk. Staph can even result from dirty hospital bed linens.  Preventable staph infections also occur in outpatient healthcare centers and nursing homes.

What is a Staph Infection?

A staph infection is caused by the germ Staphylococcus aureus.  It spreads easily – among both patients and hospital facilities.  If it spreads from the skin into the patient’s bloodstream, it can cause sepsis and is potentially fatal.

Methicillin-resistant staph (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus staph (MssA) both are resistant to many antibiotics, and therefore can be very difficult to treat.  Since most staph infections are acquired during hospital stays, hospitals have been encouraged to educate employees and put protocols in place that promote cleanliness.

And such efforts were paying off.

Earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that hospital-acquired MRSA blood streams infections fell by 17 percent each year between 2005 and 2012.  But the infection rate stopped falling and remained virtually steady between 2013 and 2017.

According the CDC, 119,247 people suffered either an MRSA or MssA bloodstream infection in 2017.  Almost 17 percent of those hospital patients with a staph infection died.

As the decline in staph infections has halted, the CDC again urged hospitals and other treatment centers to be mindful of the organization’s recommendations to prevent staph. This includes the consistent use of gowns and gloves by healthcare providers to stop the human-contact spread of the bacteria.

The CDC also recommends that hospitals screen high-risk patients for infections and treat them rapidly and properly when they are found.

Patients and their families should not be exposed to deadly risks when getting medical treatment, especially when measures to prevent potentially fatal infections are known and easily implemented.

If a family member suffered a fatal infection during a hospital stay or you were seriously harmed from hospital-acquired staph, speak with an attorney experienced in investigating medical malpractice matters.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog August 19, 2019