Infections In The Neonatal ICU Remain A Major Problem

Written by Ankin Law Office

A recent Reuters investigation found that the problem of healthcare-associated infections in neonatal intensive care units is worsening and the healthcare industry appears to be covering up the problem. A study published in the Archives of Medical Science in 2012 found that healthcare-related infections were one of the leading causes of death for newborns, especially those born prematurely. Newborns are at a higher risk of such infections due to the immaturity of their immune system and the many invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures infants in the ICU endure.

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infographic_Neonatal Infections in ICU

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Reuters reports, for example, that Josiah Cooper-Pope died of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA) on Sept. 2, 2010, just 17 days after his premature birth. Josiah was born at Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. He was the fourth baby in the neonatal unit to catch the MRSA infection. The cause of death listed on his death certificate was “Sepsis due to (or as a consequence of): Prematurity.” There was no mention of the staph bacteria that sickened him and eight other newborns who were also in the neonatal ICU at the same time. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney can help families obtain answers and any medical records pertaining to their loved one’s death.

The CDC estimates that more than 2 million people are sickened by preventable infections in U.S. hospitals each year; approximately 100,000 of them die. The number of hospital-related deaths for babies less than 20 days old is more difficult to come by because of how hospitals report their deaths. MRSA bacteria often develops when antibiotics are used too frequently or not used properly. Eventually, bacteria will change so that the antibiotics are no longer effective. Once methicillin and other antibiotics are unable to kill an infection, it is very difficult to stop it from spreading. MRSA can be transferred by casual contact or contaminated instruments. A Chicago medical malpractice attorney can advise people who have lost a family member due to hospital error of their rights and legal options. The Reuters investigation found tens of thousands of hospital-related deaths from drug-resistant infections go uncounted.

Chippenham Hospital should have reported its MRSA outbreak to the state Department of Health when a third baby tested positive for the superbug, four days prior to Josiah Cooper-Pope becoming infected. Instead, the hospital notified health officials by mail after the outbreak had already run its course. Like Virginia, Illinois does not require hospitals to keep a count of superbug deaths.

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