Going to the hospital used to involve a stay of several days up to several weeks, but these days the aim is to release patients as soon as possible. While some of this is due to the patient’s insurance coverage, hospitals are often motivated by their medical malpractice liability in the event the patient develops a healthcare associated infection (HAI).
The number of HAIs due to overuse of antibiotics and a lack of proper sanitation practices has risen alarmingly over the last decade and can result in serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. The following provides information on the incidence rate for HAIs at South Carolina hospitals as well as actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Healthcare Associated Infections in South Carolina
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while increased awareness among medical providers has helped to fight the incidence of HAIs, more than 750,000 hospital patients throughout the U.S. are affected each year. In addition to making patients dangerously ill, HAIs are one of the leading cause of hospital related deaths. Common types of HAIs include:
- Central Line Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI): This occurs when tubes inserted into the veins are not clean or inserted improperly, which allows germs to enter the body resulting in potentially deadly bloodstream infections.
- Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI): This results from catheters which are not sterile, inserted improperly, or left in too long, and can result in liver or kidney damage.
- Surgical Site Infections (SSI): These result from a lack of sanitation practices, such as proper handwashing or disinfection of instruments. These infections can affect the surface area as well as the tissues and organs involved in the surgery.
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Bacteria: These are bacteria spread by a lack of handwashing, resulting in serious bloodstream infections.
- Clostridium Difficile (C. difficile) Bacteria: This occurs due to over prescribing antibiotics, which kill off good bacteria, and can cause potentially deadly stomach upset and diarrhea.
CDC statistics for South Carolina show that while the number of MRSA, central line, and antibiotic infections in the state are close to or lower than the national average, catheter associated urinary tract and surgical site infections are both significantly higher.
Tips To Protect Yourself Against HAIs
The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) advises that to prevent HAIs, it is important for patients to be aware of the risks and to be their own best advocate in the hospital. Ways you can help protect yourself include:
- Make sure all nurses, doctors, and hospital staff wash their hands thoroughly when entering your room and prior to treatment.
- Bring bleach based wipes from home to disinfect surfaces in your room.
- If you have a catheter or a central line, make sure it is checked regularly and request that it be removed as soon as possible.
- When eating, avoid touching your hands to your mouth, and do not lay utensils on your nightstand or bedding.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you care about has suffered an HAI, call or contact the Anastopoulo Law Firm online to request a free consultation. We can help protect your rights, while advising you on how to get compensation for the damages you have suffered.