When you are admitted to a hospital, you expect that the treatment you receive there will improve your health. But all too often, this is not the case.
Entrusting your health to a medical facility and its staff is, essentially, entering into a contract—a contract wherein the hospital pledges to treat you with a professional standard of care. If the hospital and its staff are negligent, and you suffer injury, then they have broken their contract with you and can be held liable for medical malpractice.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), also known as hospital-acquired infections, are infections a patient contracts while being treated at a medical facility. In other words, the patient didn’t have an HAI before being admitted to the facility. HAIs are often the result of unsanitary environments, inadequately sterilized instruments, and unsanitary practices by staff.
About 1.7 million HAIs occur each year in hospitals in the United States, resulting in approximately 99,000 fatalities and an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs. One of the more common and deadliest HAIs is sepsis.
What Is Sepsis?
The Sepsis Alliance defines sepsis as “the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s your body’s overactive and toxic response to an infection.”
When you get an infection, your body’s immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight that infection. Sepsis occurs when the immune system’s fight against an infection goes into overdrive, and begins attacking healthy tissue and organs. Uncontrolled sepsis can lead to septic shock, a condition where the body cannot supply adequate blood flow to organs, resulting in extremely low blood pressure. Septic shock has a mortality rate of almost 50%.
Liability for Healthcare-Acquired Sepsis
If you developed sepsis while under medical care, or shortly thereafter, a number of parties can be held liable, including:
- The medical facility: This could include a hospital, surgery center, nursing home, or urgent care facility, if conditions at that facility caused the infection that led to sepsis. The facility can also be held liable if the staff failed to diagnose the development of sepsis in a timely manner.
- Independent contractors: Many doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, etc., are not actually employed by the facility where they treat patients. If an independent contractor’s negligence caused the infection that resulted in sepsis, or failed to diagnose sepsis in a timely manner, that party can be held liable. For example, if the hospital hires an outside company to clean and sanitize its facility, and that company does an inadequate job, the cleaning company may be held liable.
- The manufacturer of a defective medical device: If a defective medical device can be shown to be the cause of the infection that led to sepsis, that device’s designer and manufacturer can be held liable.
Legal Action for Healthcare-Acquired Sepsis
If you’ve suffered from healthcare-acquired sepsis, or lost a loved one due to healthcare-acquired sepsis, you have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the liable party or parties. In order to have a successful medical malpractice claim, you must:
- Establish that the injured patient was treated by the medical professional, or at the medical facility, within a reasonable timeframe before being stricken with sepsis.
- Prove that the defendant acted negligently.
- Prove that the defendant was directly responsible for the patient’s injuries.
- Show that the patient’s injuries caused damages, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc.
As you can see, filing a successful medical malpractice claim is complicated and time-consuming. By enlisting the representation of an Atlanta failure to treat sepsis attorney, you can go about the healing process while your attorney handles the legal issues.
For more than three decades, the seasoned legal team at Grant Law Office has been fighting for the rights of medical malpractice victims and their families. If you would like us to handle your claim, call (404) 995-3955 or toll-free (866) 249-5513 for a free case evaluation. Grant Law Office operates on a contingency basis, meaning we charge no upfront fees or retainers. We only get paid if your claim is successful. You have nothing to lose, so call us today.