Thousands of patients each year contract serious, often fatal infections while they are hospitalized or treated at other health care facilities. A Pennsylvania survey found that in one year 19,154 patients suffered infections contracted while in hospitals, with 2,478 dying as a result of those infections.
In one outbreak, nine children died and at least another 17 were sickened due to the spread of adenovirus at a pediatric center, the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in northern New Jersey. (See ABC-TV news coverage) In another case, several hospital systems in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have reportedly experienced patient infections believed to have been linked to heater-cooler devices used during open-heart surgery, with at least six fatalities reported and thousands of other patients notified of possible infections.
Kline & Specter, PC, litigates claims involving infections at medical facilities. If you or a loved one contracted a hospital infection that resulted in serious illness, injury or death, you should contact us to speak with one of the hospital infections attorneys at Kline & Specter. Our law firm has more than 40 attorneys, incuding five doctor/lawyers -- the most of any law firm in the nation. We represent victims in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and nationwide.
The ninth fatality at the Wanaque Center was announced Oct. 28, 2018 and officials at the facility confirmed at least 17 other cases of the adenovirus, a respiratory virus that causes flu-like symptoms that can be extremely harmful to those with already compromised immune systems.
Nationally, one study of infections generally found that roughly an estimated 95,000 patients annually in the United States develop an invasive infection and nearly one in five die as a result. The number of deaths exceeds those caused by HIV/AIDS or homicides each year.
The national study looked at cases of methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, a virulent drug-resistant bacteria. It found that 85 percent of invasive infections were associated with health care treatment, including those contracted at hospitals and nursing homes. The study confirmed previous research that indicated long-term care centers are "breeding grounds" for infection. Concern has also grown that MRSA, also known as the "superbug," has spread to other community-based facilities, such as schools and gyms. Schools in Bedford County, Virginia, closed after a student there died of a staph infection. (Full story.)
Hospitals are also seeing an increase in the infection Clostridium difficile, known as C-diff, which can cause severe intestinal illnesses. In one study, hospitals reported a greater incidence of C-diff than MRSA. And C-diff, which is also resistant to many antibiotics, is spread by fecal spores that are impervious to most conventional cleaners and even alcohol-based hand sanitizers that can eliminate MRSA threats. Although MRSA is generally considered more dangerous because it can prove fatal, recent reports note that a more dangerous, and sometimes fatal, form of C-diff has emerged in the last decade. (Learn more about C-diff)
The national study included 168 hospitals and was conducted by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency, and included 1.6 million patient hospitalizations. The survey looked at four types of hospital infections. They were bloodstream infections from IVs, ventilator-associated pneumonia, urinary tract infections from catheters and infections at surgical sites. (Click here to read an article about the survey.)
The council's executive director, Marc P. Volavka, was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer as saying that "every patient that enters a hospital is at risk for a hospital-acquired infection. He said such infections are the result of "flawed processes" of care and hygiene. Indeed, a major cause of infection was noted as poor hand washing by hospital personnel.