Are Hospitals Liable for Staph Infections in Patients?

Staph word written on wooden blocks and stethoscope on light blue background

Victims of medical negligence may wonder, “are hospitals liable for staph infections?” A hospital may be held liable for staph infections in patients if there are implications of negligence and medical malpractice. Since hospital staph infections are contracted by patients in numerous ways, negligence or incompetence on the part of the hospital must be proven.

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Infographics on Staph Infection

Hospital Staph Infections

Staph, short for Staphylococcus, is a bacteria that can cause infections in any part of the body. Although most staph infections affect the skin, the germ can spread to blood, joints, and bones, as well as organs including the heart, lungs, and brain once it enters the body. Any person can get a staph infection, but hospital patients are especially vulnerable due to illness and open incisions from catheter tubes, IVs, chest and breathing tubes, pressure sores, and surgical wounds.

Staph can be spread from one person to another, even in healthy individuals who may have staph skin infections without realizing it. In hospital settings, staph can spread much more quickly due to patients with immune deficiencies, chronic illnesses, and contagious diseases. In hospitals, most staph germs are spread through skin-to-skin contact by nurses, doctors, technicians, and patient visitors, or by touching surfaces or objects that have been contaminated. A Chicago personal injury attorney often sees cases of staph infections in Illinois hospitals that don’t emphasize the importance of sanitary conditions for staff and patients.

Can You Sue a Hospital if You Get a Staph Infection?

Most hospitals consider staph infections a general risk of being a hospital patient. To prevent infections in both patients and staff, most hospitals require sterile environments and encourage frequent hand washing and sanitizing for all hospital staff. Special precautions are taken in intensive care units, surgical units, and emergency rooms, where patients have a 20% higher risk of staph infections due to:

  • Staff with unclean hands
  • Staff not wearing gloves or protective clothing during procedures
  • Improperly sterilized equipment
  • Improper changing of dressings and bandages
  • Improperly checking infected wounds and surgical sites

Damages Recoverable in a Staph Infection Claim

Victims are able to recover special, general, and punitive damages in medical malpractice claims. To recover damages, the damages must be tied to the medically negligent act.

General Damages

General damages don’t carry a tangible price and can include lost future earning capacity, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Typically, expert testimony can help to allocate financial value to these damages.

Special Damages

Special damages carry a more exact, identifiable value than general damages. The financial value for these damages are tied to costs like medical bills, long term treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages, prescriptions, and medical equipment.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish a healthcare provider who intentionally causes harm. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, a victim can only recover punitive damages if his or her healthcare provider knowingly committed malpractice or negligence.

Work With a Hospital Infection Lawyer

Although it’s difficult to track the cause of most infections, Illinois hospitals can be held liable for patient staph infections if negligence or incompetence is proven by a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. Hospitals are responsible for hiring licensed, trained medical staff and providing an appropriate level of care to patients. When a hospital fails to ensure medical staff is properly trained, or when they overwork employees, patients suffer. If a patient suffers harm due to negligent acts of hospital employees or unsanitary hospital conditions, the hospital may be held liable for injuries and damages.

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