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The last place anyone imagines they will get a severe infection is at a hospital. Yet according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1.7 million people are affected by a nosocomial or hospital-acquired infection (HAI) every year. The severity of the infection can widely vary, but these infections are also responsible for over 99,000 deaths annually. These infections could appear as early as 48 hours after a patient has been admitted and could affect patients of all ages. 

Common types of HAIs are:

• Respiratory infections

• Urinary tract infections

• Meningitis

• Gastroenteritis

• Soft-tissue infections

• Wound-infections 

Despite how sterile a hospital is supposed to be, an infection can really come from anywhere. Below are four surprising causes of HAIs: 

1. Poorly Sterilized Equipment 

Between uses and as a precaution, equipment of all kinds needs to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. This includes but is not limited to internal and external equipment.  

2. Failure to Wash Hands Thoroughly

Doctors, surgeons, and nurses alike all have strict guidelines for keeping their hands and arms clean before working with anything that a patient could come in contact with. They often have canisters and ports that dispense medical grade hand sanitizer. When staff members fail to thoroughly wash their hands, they put their patients and each other at risk. 

3. Failure to Diagnose Existing Infections in Patients

Patients admitted to a hospital should be thoroughly screened for any infections they may have that could pose a significant threat to staff and other patients. If an infection is found, precautions, such as quarantine or isolation, are employed to keep others safe. By failing to diagnose existing infections, these infected patients stand to jeopardize the health of others.

4. Poorly Maintained Surroundings

Anything a patient comes in contact with should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected before use. An often overlooked area is a patient’s room. Something as simple as bedding could become a sponge for surrounding germs and illness. 

The effects of a HAI can be devastating. HAIs can make existing ailments worse and can require more extended, expensive treatments. This, combined with lost time at work, could create an extremely difficult financial situation. At their worst, the effects of HAIs can be life altering or fatal. 

If you or a loved one has been injured by a hospital-acquired infection, contact a medical malpractice lawyer who could help. Contact the law offices of Berger and Lagnese today online or by phone at 412-471-4300 to schedule your case consultation.