A lengthy stay in a hospital puts you at risk for contracting serious and even deadly infections. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can happen. As a matter of fact, it happens so often that there is a name for it: healthcare-acquired infection. You may be one of many Indiana residents who joke that you don't like to go to hospitals because there are sick people there.
The problem is that it's no joke. Infections happen in medical facilities all the time. Hospitals and nursing homes receive most of the press for this, but it could even happen in your doctor's office. The longer you stay in a hospital, the more likely the possibility is that you may contract an infection, which could turn into sepsis.
Why does this happen?
When you go into a hospital, you are probably already ill or injured. Your depressed or compromised immune system makes you particularly vulnerable to infection. If you also have a chronic illness such as diabetes, your risk could increase further. If you have cancer that's receiving chemotherapy treatment, or you are elderly or young, this may also increase your risk.
If you undergo surgery, have intravenous lines -- including central lines, catheters or some other invasive device or intervention such as a ventilator -- while in the hospital, your risk of infection continues to rise. The most common types of infections contracted in hospital settings include the following:
- Urinary tract infections
- Clostridium difficile, often called C. difficile or C. diff
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA
- Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus
If your doctor fails to diagnose and treat your infection as quickly as possible, you could end up suffering from a secondary condition called sepsis. Depending on the severity of your sepsis, you could lose a limb, suffer chronic fatigue and pain for the rest of your life, or suffer organ dysfunction that may also alter the course of your life.
What can you do?
If you discover that the hospital failed to provide you with the standard of care you deserve by taking every possible measure to prevent your infection, you may be able to pursue compensation for the harm done to you now and the alterations to your life as a result.