How Risky Is Going to the Hospital? The Dangers and Liabilities of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Introduction

Liability for Healthcare-Associated Infection
Despite the significant progress that has been made in preventing some types of healthcare-associated infections, on any given day, one in 25 hospital patients is likely to contract a healthcare-associated infection, according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. More than 648,000 people develop infections during a hospital stay each year in the United States. Of these, about 75,000 die.

Infections associated with hospitals and other health care providers pose a major threat to patient safety that is often preventable. Overuse of antibiotics and the growth of so-called “superbugs” contribute to the problem. Eight hospitals in Maine recently incurred fines because their incidence of patients contracting avoidable infections fell into the bottom 25 percent of hospitals across the country.

When patients contract an avoidable infection in a health facility, or when health care providers fail to treat or improperly treat these infections, litigation is likely to result.

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to the litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and liability issues that can arise in connection with healthcare-associated infections.