Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) are illnesses that patients receive while receiving care within a medical facility of hospital. These infections can happen in any medical environment, placing a variety of patients at risk. However, they are particularly dangerous when they are present within the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where infirmed infants are receiving care.
Government statistics show that 1 in every 25 patients is currently infected with an HAI. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the most common risk factors for the transfer of HAIs are as follows:
*Use of Urinary Catheters
*Invasive instruments into the bloodstream *Endotracheal procedures
*Communicable diseases transferred between patients and medical staff
*A contaminated environment
HAIs are among the leading causes of death among infants, as reported by the National Institute of Health (NIH). In addition, the rate of infection increases in babies who are severely premature, with extremely low birth weights. The high levels of infection are due to the physical immaturity of these patients. The immune system of a neonate is not fully developed. In addition, the fragility of their skin and gastrointestinal tract does not provide adequate protection from infections. Furthermore, the therapeutic and diagnostic procedures that are done on these infants can be extremely invasive. All of these factors collectively create a high level of risk for infection.
HAI Related Illnesses
There are numerous effects that result from the exposure of these infants to HAIs. The most frequent NICU infections are:
&Bloodstream infection (Speticaemia or Fungal) – This occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream. The condition worsens quickly, resulting in severe sickness or death
*Urinary Tract Infections – This occurs when infection enters areas of the urinary tract. It may attack the within the lower section of the tract, which is the bladder. Alternatively, it may attack the upper section, or the kidneys.
*Pneumonia – When infection and bacteria enters the lungs, they become inflamed and the air sacs can fill with pus, making breathing difficult.
*Meningitis – The meninges are membranes that cover the brain and spinal chord. When infected, they become inflamed and create a life threatening situation.
The federal government provides hospitals with resources to prevent the spread of HAIs within NIC units. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare Associated Illnesses. The program provides hospitals with guidelines for identification of HAIs and practices to stop their spread. But even with an HAI Action Plan, infections can spread within the NICU, possibly causing increased sickness and suffering to your newborn. When these incidents occur, the hospital may face liability and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the necessary legal path.
If you or your baby experienced a birth injury, and you believe a hospital associated infection was the cause, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti for aggressive representation.
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