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Hospitals may be negligent in safeguarding against infections

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a disturbing figure: Around 75,000 patients die in hospitals each year from infections contracted in health care facilities.

The cause of infection may be something as simple as contaminated linens. For example, unloading or transporting clean linens on the same surfaces where medical wastes are removed might spread infection. Another cause might be fungal, especially if the off-site launderer has a moist environment without adequate cleaning protocols.

Although an infection may not sound life threatening, it can be deadly to hospitalized patients who have weakened or compromised immune systems. Yet many hospitals may not have adequate procedures to address this possibility, perhaps because certain types of infections may not have to be reported to the government. 

An attorney that handles medical malpractice claims knows that the duty of care owed to a hospital patient can begin the moment the patient enters the building. Although complicated surgical procedures or other treatments might get more scrutiny, even the handling of linens and other sterilization tasks must be handled in accordance with professional standards. Failure to abide by such standards could constitute negligence.

As this story illustrates, even something as simple as dirty linens can result in injury to patients. Around highly vulnerable patients, a hospital may even have to start using sterile linens. Hospitals may also be more proactive by keeping better records when infectious outbreaks do occur.

Unfortunately, lax procedures may go unnoticed until a patient has been injured. That’s where the experience of a medical malpractice attorney can be helpful. An attorney can work to investigate the cause of a medical injury and, in the event of hospital negligence, bring a hospital negligence lawsuit.

Source: The New York Times, "A Deadly Fungus and Questions at a Hospital," Ian Urbina and Sheri Fink, April 28, 2014

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