Your Guide to Hospital-Acquired Infections

Photo of a darkened hospital room with several patient beds, focused on a patient in the middle.

A hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is an infection that occurs while a patient is receiving treatment in a medical facility. These infections can cause serious health complications and can even be life-threatening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one HAI due to poor hygiene practices by healthcare workers or inadequate cleaning of medical equipment and facilities.

What is Considered an HAI?

Generally speaking, for an infection to be considered an HAI, it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The infection was not present before the patient went to the hospital or sought medical care.
  2. The infection occurred up to 48 hours (2 days) after the patient was admitted to the hospital or 72 hours (3 days) after the patient was discharged when the patient did not undergo surgery. Or the infection occurred up to 30 days after the patient underwent a surgical procedure.
  3. The infection occurred in a hospital or similar healthcare facility where the patient sought or received medical care.

What Causes HAIs?

Viruses, bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms cause hospital-acquired infections. These may be present in the hospital environment, such as on surfaces or in the air. They can also be transmitted from person to person via contact with infected individuals or through contact with objects such as bed sheets or medical equipment that has been contaminated.

The Human Factor

Several factors, including poor hygiene practices, inadequate staffing levels, improper sterilization techniques, inadequate communication between healthcare providers, and more, can cause infection-related malpractice. Examples include:

  • Failure to isolate patients or improper isolation.
  • Improper hand washing and hygiene.
  • Poor or missing hygiene standards and procedures.
  • Failure to wear proper protective equipment, such as gloves and masks.
  • Poorly ventilated rooms.
  • Improper cleaning and sterilization of surfaces.
  • Unnecessary or improper use of catheters.

Common HAIs

While HAIs can come in many different forms, common HAIs include the following:

  • Meningitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • Surgical site infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Gastroenteritis

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in New Mexico

Hospital-acquired infections can have serious repercussions for patients who contract them while receiving treatment at a medical facility. Healthcare professionals and institutions need to take measures to prevent the spread of these infections.

At Curtis & Co., we thoroughly investigate our clients’ claims to determine whether a hospital’s negligence or misconduct was the cause of their HAI and related damages. We have a registered nurse and licensed physician on staff, as well as access to invaluable resources and in-depth knowledge of the law. Our Albuquerque hospital-acquired infection attorneys can evaluate your situation to determine if you have a claim and, if so, tirelessly pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

For a free consultation with one of our New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys, call (505) 871-3740 or reach us online using our secure contact form.

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