Previous blog posts from our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have focused on hospital-acquired infections, or infections patients develop while in the hospital, that can sometimes be fatal. Two new studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, show that deadly infections often arrive at hospitals with the patient. The studies demonstrate that doctors and hospitals can prevent infections and save lives with simple measures, such as bathing patients and wiping their noses with antibiotic ointment.
The studies focused on a particular bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus — or staph, which is a leading cause of hospital infections. The first study showed that approximately one-third of all hospital patients carry this bacteria — in their noses and on their skin — when they arrive at the hospital. Such bacteria is harmless, but presents a risk if there is any cut or breach to the skin. More than 300,000 of those patients end up with infections after undergoing surgery each year. The study demonstrates that showering those patients with soap treated with antiseptic chlorhexidine and rubbing their noses with antibiotic nasal ointment reduces surgery-related infections by 60 percent.
The second study compared surgery patients cleaned, pre-surgery, in the area on the patient’s body where surgery will be performed with chlorhexidine and with iodine. The studies showed that patients cleaned with chlorhexidine-alcohol, rather than povidone-iodine, developed 40 percent fewer infections. Yet, hospitals continue to use iodine in 75 percent of procedures.
All surgical procedures carry a risk of infection. However, the studies discussed above show that many hospital-acquired infections are preventable with simple preventative care. There are also various other types of life-threatening infections that may be caused by a failure to follow the appropriate standard of medical care. In such instances of suspected medical negligence resulting in serious permanent injury or death, it is critical to contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney to investigate your case before the statute of limitations has expired.
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