When hospital administrators and safety officials search for bacteria that cause dangerous hospital-acquired infections, they should be sure to look down around their feet.
A hospital-acquired infection is a dangerous, often fatal, medical error. It is classified as a medical error since the patient is admitted to the hospital infection free, only to suffer from it due to hospital care.
Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights these common four types of HAIs:
· Central line-associated bloodstream infection – kills thousands of patients every year
· Catheter-associated urinary tract infection – catheters account for 75% of hospital urinary tract infections
· Surgical site infection – involving tissues under the skin or implanted materials
· Ventilator-associated pneumonia – can happen when germs enter the patient via breathing tube
An HAI occurs in a patient within 48 hours after a hospital admission. They can also occur up to three days after leaving the hospital and up to one month following a surgical procedure.
In a survey of U.S. hospital administrators released earlier this year, (“Hospital Patient Safety Report 2020”), HAIs finished behind only medication errors as the top patient safety problem hospitals face today.
More than one out of every four hospital officials said they were most concerned about patients getting a dangerous infection.
How do hospitals prevent hospital-acquired infections? Largely by adhering to good hygiene practices – both personal and with medical equipment and facilities.
Doctors and nurses should always wash their hands prior to and after visiting with a patient. Hospitals also should have in place protocols to ensure the proper cleaning or disposing of medical devices such as used catheters.
Even hospital beds have been found to house dangerous bacteria that can cause a serious infection.
Now we can add still another bacteria-rich home that may cause hospital-acquired infections; one that has been commonly overlooked by hospital safety officials.
Bacteria Transmitted to Hospital Patients
A study published November 2 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, “Timing and Route of Contamination of Patient Rooms With Healthcare-Associated Pathogens,” sought to determine how dangerous bacteria are transmitted to hospital patients in their rooms. The pathogens the researchers were looking for included:
· Clostridioides difficile
· methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
All hospital rooms in the study were thoroughly cleaned, and the patients (17 total) screened for infections prior to admitting.
Within 24 hours of admission, about half of the hospital rooms tested positive for MRSA, which can lead to a life-threatening staph infection. Other dangerous bacteria were discovered in nearly 60% of the hospital rooms within four days.
The researchers found that the bacteria were often found on the hospital room floor. The bugs then moved to patient socks and then to other high-touch areas such as patient bedding.
These same researchers found in August that the agent causing COVID-19 was often similarly found on hospital floors and on the shoes of healthcare workers.
Hospitals may be making inroads for protecting patients from serious hospital-acquired infections. But they must not ignore or overlook standard patient care during every stay or the consequences could be fatal.
If you or a loved one suffered from a dangerous infection acquired during a hospital stay, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer about conducting a detailed investigation on your behalf.
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 November 11, 2020