What You Need to Know About Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia

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When you check into a hospital, you expect to receive care that will treat your medical condition and improve your health. Yet, for thousands of patients each year, a trip to the hospital can result in a potentially fatal condition.

Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that causes the air sacs in one or both lungs to fill with fluid, resulting in severe cough, fever and breathing difficulties. The introduction of bacteria, virus and fungi into the lungs can cause pneumonia, with severity ranging from mild to life-threatening. When the infection occurs within the hospital, after a patient has been admitted for more than 48 hours, it is classified as hospital-acquired pneumonia.

The Causes of Hospital-acquired Pneumonia

Hospital-acquired pneumonia can develop for numerous reasons, including resulting from the actions or inactions of the treating physician and hospital staff. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Failure to properly diagnose and treat. Pneumonia often stems from the inadequate treatment of a less serious virus. For example, if a patient enters the hospital with the flu and is not provided proper treatment, his condition can worsen and pneumonia may develop. Left untreated, illness like SARS, rhinovirus, and herpes simplex can also lead to hospital-acquired pneumonia.
  • Poor staff hygiene. When doctors and hospital staff members fail to properly and adequately wash their hands, they place every patient at risk of infection. They are in constant contact with bacteria and germs, which they can spread from patient to patient without proper hand washing.
  • Equipment contamination. Without proper cleaning and maintenance, the equipment used within the hospital can become contaminated with illness-causing germs. Contaminated ventilators are a common cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia.

You May be Entitled to Compensation

More than 99,000 people die every year from hospital-acquired infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These incidents are overwhelmingly preventable with reasonable efforts by hospitals and their staff members. The CDC has issued hospital recommendations for preventing the spread of infections within the facility. Along with proper hand washing, the agency also suggests:

  • The thorough cleaning and inspection of ventilators
  • Replacement of ventilators between patient use
  • Limited use of ventilators for patients who are able to breathe independently
  • Lifting the patient’s head between 30 and 45 degrees during ventilator use

When medical facilities fail to reasonably protect patients from hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia, the injured patient may be entitled to compensation.

Contact an Experienced Maryland and Washington D.C. Law Firm for Answers about Hospital-acquired Pneumonia

Do not let the hospital get away with causing injury to you or a loved one. Contact the Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys of Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. today for a comprehensive evaluation of your claim. We stand up to large hospitals and medical centers, holding them accountable for the harm they cause. Call our office today at 410-234-1000 or complete our contact form to schedule an initial consultation. We have offices in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.