Nosocomial Infections: Do You Really Want the Lawyers Involved?

Because that’s what it will come to if the medical establishment fails to confront the hospital-acquired infection problem head on. In 2004, 90,000 in the U.S. died from hospital-acquired infections, and two million had a hospital-acquired infection–and in my opinion, those are conservative estimates (the reporting issues are very complex, but the short version is that many infections are simply never reported). At some point, a clever class-action attorney is going to figure this out, and then everything will go sideways. You do not want the courts creating public health policy (they did such a wonderful job when it came to biological patents…). Either hospitals, medical associations, insurers, nurses and workers unions, as well as state and federal legislators figure this out, or the courts will get involved.
The problem is simply too severe to ignore.

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6 Responses to Nosocomial Infections: Do You Really Want the Lawyers Involved?

  1. Jennifer says:

    What can do done to lower the number of these infections? Also, got a question for the mad biologist. A friend of mine had surgery about five years ago and indeed got a really nasty staph infection during recovery. He almost died. He needs to have another surgery, but the doctors tell him that since he had a staph infection once he’s much more susecptible to getting another nasty infection. True? He’s so terrified of getting another infection he’s postponing surgery. Is there anything hospital patients can do to minimize their risk of picky up these nasty bugs?

  2. The most important things would be handwashing by staff, cleaning floors and surfaces thoroughly and regularly, and screening patients on entry and isolating those with particularly nasty strains (also the staff should be regularly screened too). The latter is very, very rare in this country due to cost.
    If you have had a previous staph infection, you are more likely to have a subsequent infection, but this is due to one of two reasons (or both–they’re not mutually exclusive):
    1) for whatever reason, you’re prone to getting these infections. Alternatively, you might be a carrier–when operated on, you ‘infect yourself.’
    2) you’re more likely to be carrying the virulent strain that infected you the first time–it simply hasn’t had time to ‘leave you.’ After five years, that might not be the case.
    Depending on cost, your friend could always look into getting tested for carrying a virulent form of staph before the surgery.

  3. ip says:

    This is exactly what I am fighting still—–
    I had written before about my lovely battle with CDiff and the toll it had taken on me- I am still under advisement from docs not to use antibiotics and it has been 19 months. This menat that my original infection that I was in the hospital for grew again. I had another operation (this time in Emergency) and went on a silver sulfate antibiotic- Flamazine- topical. Thankfully it seems to have worked.
    I waited a really long time to go to the hospital because I was TERRIFIED of picking up something again. I cannot gurantee that anything is clean except ME!!!
    The filthiness of the hospitals today is due in large part because we privatized that stuff and contracted out to the lowest bidder. So our collective health and cleanliness is worth 8-10 dollars an hour. THere is no pride, there are strict TIME guidelines, and there are no longer people who do this for a career, but work temporarily.
    So when I am in a room and all I can smell is piss—-I have to clean my own bathroom with bootlegged stuff or touch my extremely messy and ill room mates germy bloody mess. Yummmmmmmy!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And I wonder why I was sick?
    Do hospitals not know that you can hire people to decontaminate hospitals??? Trust me- closing down a ward at a time may not work, but if they could at least pretend to give a shit it might ameliorate the effects of a lawsuit.
    The other thing- before people go into a hospital now, they should get tested for certain pathological strains of bugs before they go in- two fold reason: One, because if you have it then you can take precaustions and Two, because if you do not then if you acquire it you can make a case. Take pics with a camera phone too if you see an egregious disgusting violation of health standards, as no-one is on your side but you in a lawsuit.

  4. Dinestein says:

    My father contacted CDiff in a nursing home. He was rushed to the hospital ER then was in ICU for two days. His veins colapsed because they did not take care of his IV so no further hope there. He asked to be taken off all IV’s and no needles. Well, since the hospital could not charge for meds they released him back to the nursing home still infected wtih CDiff. The nursing home put him back in his old room (now with a roommate!) Unbelievable. His biohazard linens and biohadard dirty diapers stayed in his room for two days before the nursing home disposed of them properly. As far as I know Dad was not on any antibiotics before his illness but I read this CDiff can live for a while and not flare up right away. He was a healthy loving father before this happened. Now we are waiting each day for the “call” and have hospice looking after him in the nursing home. I am so upset and would like to sue the hell out of that nursing home. Do I have any case? I also took pictures of the nasty room and dad laying in his hospital bed looking like the poor little sick man he is.

  5. Lee says:

    Back in 1998, our son was born in our living room, under the supervision of a team of certified nurse-midwifes who had screened for all the requisite risk factors, and with a hospital transportation plan in place just in case.
    When my wife announced that she wanted a home birth, I freaked a it, but then started doing the homework. In 1998, the research was not great, but it didn’t take a lot of work to get a pretty clear picture – the home delivery risk (given proper risk evaluation) of tragic time-critical obstetric emergencies was substantially lower than the risk of serious hospital-acquired infections with tragic outcomes. The risk of hospital-acquired infection was one of the reasons we chose a homebirth.
    I just did a quick search, and I see a lot more research on planned home delivery available now. A quick scan of the abstracts supports the idea that home delivery is an appropriate choice for at least some people – even without including the risk of nocosomial infection.
    When I first did that lit review back in 1998, the thing that startled me was just how dangerous a place hospitals are. Sometimes I might need to be in a hospital, but hospitals are dangerous places, and if I don’t NEED to be there, I certainly won’t be.

  6. Fred jonas says:

    My wife is dealing with complications resulting from micobacteria fortuitum following mastectomy, tissue expander, and then the boob, no pun intended, placed the permanent implants. After the tissue expanders were removed the infection was cultured and it was found to be this wierd weebeegeebee bacteria that infects 1 in 100000 patients. go figure who could eb so lucky. Of course can’t get anyone to take the blame neither of the surgeons or the hospital. I’m amazed at the cost of the antibiotics, I have a decent union insurance plan and after the insurance paid their prtion we still had to pay over $65 each and for a month supply and this is to go on for the next six to twelve months. I’m also amazed the CDC does not require these type of infections be reported, how lame is that. If she had polio or smallpox she’d be on the friggin cover of time and newsweek. Well the cancer is gone but this wasn’part of the bargain. been researching this thing for about 6 weeks now and I too feel the lawyers may class action this soon. I wonder what the cost to insurance plans are for these HAI I would think the hospital has coverage for thes”inadvertant” MISTAKES>

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