“HAI” Risk: The Dangers of Healthcare-Associated Infections

“HAI” Risk: The Dangers of Healthcare-Associated Infections

When we go to the hospital for surgery or other treatment, we expect to leave the hospital in better condition than we arrived. Unfortunately, hospitals can also be a breeding ground for infections and other complications that can lead to readmissions, additional treatment, or serious adverse health consequences.

The problem of “healthcare-associated infections” (HAI) is a large one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 of every 25 hospitalized patients in the United States has an HAI at any given time. A CDC study of HAIs in 2011 concluded that about 722,000 hospital patients contracted an infection during their stay that year alone.  About 75,000 hospital patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations that year, adding billions of dollars in costs to our health-care system.

According to the CDC study, the estimated number of hospital patients who acquired infections during their stay included patients who suffered the following kinds of infections:

  • Pneumonia:                                     157,500 patients
  • Gastrointestinal illness:             123,100 patients
  • Urinary tract infections:             93,300 patients
  • Primary bloodstream infections: 71,900 patients
  • Surgical site infections:             157,500 patients
  • Other types of infections:             118,500 patients

As the CDC notes, many if most hospital infections are preventable. As such, in 2009 the CDC issued its National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination. The plan identified specific actions that hospitals and healthcare workers can and should take to reduce the risk of HAIs.

In 2013, the CDC conducted a state-by-state survey to see if and how the plan was working. The results for Texas showed significant reductions in HAIs compared to the national baseline, but still reflected a high number of infections.

If you suffered from an infection after surgery or a hospital stay and experienced adverse health consequences, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. If the hospital, physicians, nurses, or other workers at the hospital failed to follow proper procedures to prevent infections or otherwise were negligent in their care, they may be held liable for such failures.

Attorney Robert Greening at Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas has extensive experience and a track record of success representing those who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice or other acts of negligence by health-care professionals. If you acquired an infection shortly after a hospital stay or surgery, please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Getting Injured In a Hospital May Not Always Be Considered a Medical Malpractice Claim, Texas Supreme Court Says

Getting Injured In a Hospital May Not Always Be Considered a Medical Malpractice Claim, Texas Supreme Court Says
are governed by specific and complex laws that don’t apply to other types of personal injury lawsuits. Whether an injury claim is subject to those laws can have a significant impact on how the suit will proceed and how much in damages may be recovered

A recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court shows why and how the distinction between health care liability claims and personal injury lawsuits is so important.

The case of Reddic v. East Texas Medical Center involved an injury claim filed by a visitor who slipped and fell in a hospital lobby. The plaintiff’s claim was based on a premises liability theory, which is the same theory that would be used for a slip and fall that happened in a restaurant, grocery store, or any other business establishment. The fact that the fall was in a hospital was incidental and of no consequence, according to the plaintiff.

“Health Care Liability Claims” v. Premises Liability Claims

Not so, argued the hospital. The fact that the injury occurred in a health care facility was important because the claim constituted a “health care liability claim” (“HCLC”) that should be subject to the requirements and limitations of the Texas Medical Liability Act (the “Act”).

Under the Act, which is focused on medical malpractice claims, an HCLC is defined as:

“a cause of action against a health care provider or physician for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care, which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant, whether the claimant’s claim or cause of action sounds in tort or contract.”

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.001(a)(13)

Whether the plaintiff’s claim in Reddic was subject to the Act was important for a couple of reasons. One, the Act places limitations and caps on the amount of damages that can be obtained for an HCLC. Two, one of the requirements of the Act, which primarily covers medical malpractice claims, is that a plaintiff must obtain the opinion and report of a medical expert either before or within 120 days of filling suit. Since the plaintiff did obtain such a report, the suit should be dismissed, the hospital argued.

In its October decision, the Texas Supreme Court concluded that the fact that the injury occurred in a hospital did not in and of itself make the lawsuit seeking compensation a “health care liability claim” subject to the Act. While the court agreed that “floor care in an area frequented by those seeking or receiving health care is related to the provision of health care… the Act requires that for a claim to be an HCLC, it must have more of a relationship to the provision of health care than that it arises from an occurrence inside a hospital.”

To the extent that this decision limits the ability of hospitals, physicians, or other health care providers and facilities to hide behind the protections of the Medical Liability Act, it is a positive development for those who have been injured by the same types of negligent conduct that would support the recovery for damages in any other non-health care setting.

At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we have extensive experience representing and obtaining compensation for individuals who have been injured in slip and fall accidents as well as medical malpractice actions. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall or because of negligently maintained property or due to medical malpractice, please give attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form. We are ready to help you.