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Liability Risks of Hospital-Acquired Infections

When it comes to preventable injuries suffered by patients, some of the most common include infections. With amazing improvements in medical science and the healthcare industry, medical providers have placed tremendous emphasis on reducing hospital-acquired infections with the utmost efficiency. Unfortunately, infections in hospital, surgical, and healthcare settings still occur frequently – often as the result of medical professionals' failures to uphold standards of care and safety. As awareness of the dangers regarding infections spreads, more patients acknowledge these risks. When the opportunity arises for victims to exercise their legal rights to hold physicians and healthcare providers liable, however, are the average plaintiffs' attorneys prepared?

Question
If a patient contracts a hospital-acquired infection, what are liability risks for the treating physician? Is this something plaintiff attorneys are looking at? Under what circumstances can the physician or healthcare provider be held liable?

Answer
Attorney Michael Wilson – who holds both legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University – is currently reviewing a case involving a hospital-acquired infection with catastrophic multiple amputations. As with any medical malpractice case, the first issue in the mind of a victim's attorney should be whether catastrophic permanent injuries have occurred – and further, if it is feasible to assume the time, expense, and risk of potentially lengthy and complex litigation. Once the attorney has determined that catastrophic injuries have occurred, then the attorney should inquire as to whether a breach of the standard of care has occurred. In other words, did the failures or negligence of a physician or healthcare provider cause the victim's injuries?

In hospital situations, where substantial numbers of healthcare providers in different specialties – emergency medicine, internal medicine, infectious disease, nurses, and others – must interact with each other in real time, it is quite common for errors to occur. Attorneys must consider ordering medical records and have those records reviewed by various experts. It can easily cost a considerable sum to carefully review one case, so the attorney must have some though that the liability exists before spending such an amount of money.

It is impossible to catalog all the mistakes and errors that contribute to an end result where the patient has major injuries from a hospital-acquired infection. Some common causes include failures to sterilize medical equipment sufficiently, provide the correct antibiotics, or recognize and treat the developing sepsis in a timely and effective manner. Infections may also be caused and / or exacerbated by some form of negligence or by a substantial delay in the diagnosis of the infection or in the treatment of the infection after diagnosis. Additionally, infections may not be resolved if the wrong treatment was provided, including the wrong antibiotic or the correct antibiotic in the wrong dose.

In short, medical providers can be held liable for their failures and for causing preventable harm to patients – in particular hospital-acquired infections. The difficulties, however, come with determining an efficient course of action to explore, identity, and clearly present these failures to support a medical malpractice claim. At The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D & Associates, Attorney Wilson uses his background as both a license physician and attorney to clearly determine and establish liability. He works diligently to review cases and help patients understand the viability of their claim and utilizes extensive resources to their advantage. If you would like to learn more about hospital-acquired infections, your rights, and how the firm can help, contact a Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorney today.