A nosocomial infection
is one that is acquired in a hospital
. Nosocomial infections are easily prevented if the hospital and its staff follow well-recognized sanitation and hygiene protocols. For instance, frequent hand washing has been shown to significantly lessen the incidence of nosocomial infections. Other preventative techniques include quarantining patients with particularly harmful infections from the hospital's general population, and proper storage and disinfection of surgical tools and medical devices
. One of the most common causes of nosocomial infections is the urinary catheter. As such, catheterizations must be handled with care.
Nosocomial infections cause a net loss of over $26,000 per patient to hospitals, according to one recent study. Hospitals are therefore intent on reducing losses caused by hospital acquired infections. There are tremendous incentives to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness in hospitals in order to reduce these costs. The human toll is agonizing, with at least 100,000 deaths every year in the U.S. attributable to nosocomial infections.
These hospital acquired infections come either in the form of flesh-eating bacteria disease, called necrotizing fasciitis (see blue box link), or in the form of a blood bacterial infection caused by a catheter or an I.V. line. Nosocomial infections can also be transferred via unsterilized or used latex gloves, linens, and unclean stethoscopes. While most nosocomial infections occur as a result of an infected catheter site, infections also occur as a result of surgery.
Postoperative infections, which affect an estimated 500,000 patients every year, are often unnecessary and can be quite expensive. A patient's medical bills increase the more days he or she stays recovering from the ailment and their risk of further complications multiplies. While some postoperative infections are unavoidable (it depends on the surgery, the patient and the disorder), it is often the attending physician or nurse who fails to prescribe or distribute the proper postoperative medication, which leads to further infection. Because postoperative infections may be the result of medical malpractice, an experienced attorney may be needed.
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