Are You or a Loved One a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Nearly 11,000 hospital patients in Pennsylvania contracted an infection during a hospital stay in 2004, which caused at least 1,500 preventable deaths, forced patients to extend their hospital stays by over 205,000 days combined, and cost patients an additional $2 billion in hospital bills, according to Pennsylvania (PA) state-wide figures released in July 2005.
Pennsylvania is the first state to collect data on hospital-acquired infections, which has now put hard figures on a troubling phenomenon that until now has only been estimated. However, officials feel that the number of people affected by hospital-acquired infections is actually much higher due to the gross underreporting by many hospitals. The actual tally could be as high as 115,000 infections, based on billing claims the hospitals submitted to insurers, the report said.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council report indicated that 16 hospitals across Pennsylvania and several other large facilities, including nursing homes, reported no infections at all. Pennsylvania State Representative George Kenney, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee is reported as saying this is "hard to believe" and "a very serious issue."
As health care spending has increased, employers, which often pay the bills, have begun pressing hospitals to work to reduce a variety of mistakes, from incorrect medications to avoidable infections. As part of that effort, Pennsylvania began last year to require every acute care hospital to report the number of infections contracted in the hospital in four major categories:
- Surgical infections (postoperative)
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Blood stream infections
The most common reported infections were urinary tract infections (UTI) transmitted to patients while using a catheter. Methicillin-resistant staph (MRSA) infections and blood stream infections associated with intravenous catheters are also a huge problem in hospitals in Pennsylvania (PA).
Patients who developed pneumonia while using a ventilator had the highest death rate, over 32%. Many times the transmission of these infections are a medical error caused by the negligence of a physician or other health care professional, a case of medical malpractice. Some health care providers report that to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia cases, simple steps such as keeping the patient's head elevated and ensuring the patient breathes independently for at least a few minutes each day can prevent an infection.
The most important prevention strategy to reducing the number of infections and deaths is simple, frequent hand washing by your health care providers. Shaving, a common procedure before surgery can creates abrasions that can become easily infected. The preferred technique is clipping of the hair.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has reported that as many as 2 million infections are acquired in hospitals each year, across the country, resulting in 90,000 preventable deaths.
If you or a loved one has contracted an infection while in the hospital, after surgery or at another health care facility, you may be the victim of medical malpractice. It is important that you know your rights and that your case is evaluated by an attorney with a medical background, who understands the procedures and has experience dealing with medical malpractice cases involving many types of infections.
Veronica Richards, RN, MSN, CRNP, JD, is experienced with many types of medical malpractice cases all across Western Pennsylvania (PA) including Pittsburgh, Sharon, Butler, New Castle, Washington, Greensburg, and Beaver. She has worked as the Manager of Neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, an honor given to the top 5% of attorneys across Pennsylvania.
Please contact a Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer today for a free evaluation of your case by our nurse-practitioner attorney or call toll free (866) 740-3999, in Pittsburgh (412) 253-2092 or in Butler County (724) 940-4340. There is no fee unless a recovery is made.Print Page