Often, being admitted to hospital is traumatic enough without the threat of infection, but it can and does happen. There have been a number of times where MRSA and C. Difficile have been widespread amongst UK hospitals.
How Does Hospital Acquired Infection Occur?
These infections can be extremely damaging to a patient’s health whilst in hospital, as they are generally in a more vulnerable state. They may have open wounds or a lower immune system, and struggle to fight any foreign bacteria, allowing it to easily spread through wards.
Hospital acquired infections are usually spread through skin to skin contact with someone who is already carrying the bacteria. Surgical wounds, catheters or burns allow bacteria to easily enter the body.
Two of the most common are MRSA and C.Difficile.
Medical centres and hospitals have strict hygiene controls and quality improvement plans in place which should prevent the spread of hospital acquired infection. Where this isn’t followed correctly, infections are spread across wards and patients. This may be through improper hand washing, reuse of infected tools and materials, improper disposal, or improper cleaning of facilities prior to patient use.
This is a form of medical negligence, which may hold dire consequences for the victim.
What are the Symptoms of a Hospital Acquired Infections?
An MRSA skin infection usually presents itself as a painful bump, boil, or abscess, which may resemble an insect bite. Other symptoms depend upon the strain of MRSA, but might include:
- A high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
- A general sense of feeling unwell
- Muscular aches and pains
- Pain, swelling and tenderness in the affected body part
If left untreated, MRSA can develop into a skin infection called cellulitis, an infection of the deeper layers of the skin. Cellulitis causes the skin to suddenly turn red and painful, with increased temperature and swelling.
Nonetheless, the symptoms of MRSA will depend on what part of the body is affected. Many people will carry the virus, but won’t show any symptoms.
When allowed to develop, invasive MRSA infections can lead to the following conditions:
- Blood poisoning
- Urinary tract infection – infection of the parts of the body used to take urine out of the body, such as the bladder
- Infection of the lining of the heart (endocarditis)
- Septic bursitis
- Septic arthritis
MRSA is contagious, and poses significant problems when immune systems are weakened, as is common in hospital wards.
C.Difficile is particularly dangerous, as the bacteria can survive for months on objects and surfaces. If you were to then touch a contaminated surface, you could ingest the bacteria and become very ill.
C.Difficile bacteria, isn’t usually harmful in healthy people. However, after long courses of treatment of antibiotics, the immune system can be weakened. This leads to the bad bacteria multiplying and creating toxins in the gut.
Common symptoms of C. Difficile are:
- Regular bouts of foul-smelling, watery diarrhoea; which may be blood stained. Most people have around 3-5 bouts of diarrhoea a day
- Abdominal cramping and pain
In worsened cases of C. Difficile, the colon may become inflamed in a condition known as colitis. The symptoms include:
- More frequent bouts of diarrhoea; between 10-15 a day
- A high temperature (fever) of or above 38C (100.4F)
- More severe abdominal cramping
- Dehydration (not having enough fluid in your body)
- Feeling sick
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
How are Hospital Acquired Infections Diagnosed?
The common infections as mentioned above are, in most cases, easily diagnosed using:
- Blood tests
- Urine Tests
- Tissue sample
- Stool sample
In complex cases of C. Difficile, a colon examination will be needed, through either a colonoscopy or a CT scan.
How are Hospital Acquired Infections treated?
Treatment for MRSA depends entirely upon the type, and location of the infection and severity of its symptoms. The treatments for mild cases of MRSA include:
- Draining of the boils or abscesses
- Use of antibiotics
- Isolation on a separate ward to reduce the spread of infection
The treatment for c.difficile varies depending upon the severity of the infection. The treatment options in mild cases are:
- Stop taking antibiotics which may have caused the infection, allowing the good bacteria in the gut to regrow.
If the condition is more severe, treatment options include:
- Taking a different course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
- Taking an additional course of probiotics
- Immunoglobulin injections, which stimulate the production of antibodies
- Faecal transplantation, whereby a sample of healthy stool is taken from a donor, and then fed into the colon. This stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut, restoring balance.
Can Hospital Acquired Infections be prevented?
Hospital acquired infections are easily preventable, and can be contained by the use of simple hygiene measures. These include:
- Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water
- Using anti-bacterial hand gel when entering and leaving hospital
- Washing all areas, such as bathrooms, thoroughly with bleach and water
- Using disposable gloves where possible
- Avoiding transfer between wards when possible.
Considering that these steps are so easily taken, when hospital infection does occur it can often be linked to poor care, leading to a successful medical negligence claim.
Can I Make a Hospital Acquired Infection Claim?
You may be eligible to make a claim for hospital acquired infection compensation, if you have suffered from any of the following:
- You were screened for MRSA or C. Difficile when you were admitted to hospital, and were found to be free of infection
- There were delays in recognising, and treating the infection
- The hospital failed to treat the infection properly once it was detected
- There was an obvious failure of care, for example inappropriate use of antibiotics, poor wound care, or a lack of monitoring
Our solicitors can provide expert claim advice in a FREE consultation if you are unsure; simply call 01204 521 133.
How Much Will I Get?
Everyon’e’s claim is entirely different, so it is difficult to advise accurately. However, our Medical Negligence Compensation Calculator may provide a rough estimate of what you may receive. These estimates are based on your injuries and also other factors, such as psychological problems and missed time at work.
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As with any claim, you may be worried about the potential costs of pursuing your medical negligence case. To address this common concern, we have devised a variety of options to help you. We help acquire all the assistance that you are entitled to, whilst managing resulting compensation in the most beneficial way possible. We must remind you to be quick, however, as there are time limits in place for making claims of this kind.
If you are suffering as a result of substandard treatment, you may be eligible to make a claim. We have a wealth of experience when it comes to medical negligence claims and our Medical Negligence Solicitors will work to gather all of the appropriate paperwork and documentation, whilst speaking to all parties involved, substantiating your claim.