Every day, we face a world that presents potential dangers to our health. Riding in a car, walking across an intersection, or petting a dog, can result in unexpected injuries when things go wrong. We unknowingly (or sometimes intentionally) interact with sick people who might transmit an illness to us. Or, we may have a genetic predisposition to specific health problems.
When going to the doctor, some people may start to feel uneasy about being around other patients who are ill, potentially with something contagious – including MRSA. But, if someone contracts MRSA while in the hospital, do they have a case for a malpractice suit? In this article, we will discuss MRSA infections and whether they can be caused by malpractice.
What Is MRSA?
MRSA stands for “Methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus.” Staphylococcus, sometimes shortened to “staph,” is a type of bacteria that causes infections. Unfortunately, the bacteria that causes MRSA is resistant to certain antibiotics that are typically used for staph infections.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most MRSA infections occur when people have been exposed to healthcare settings such as hospitals, dialysis centers, and nursing homes. When MRSA is contracted this way, it may be called HA-MRSA, meaning “healthcare-associated.” MRSA can also occur outside of healthcare settings in the community, and may be referred to as CA-MRSA, meaning “community-associated.” In this article, we are primarily concerned with HA-MRSA.
How Dangerous Is MRSA?
According to Consumer Reports, around 648,000 people in the US annually develop infections. Of course, that statistic includes both MRSA infections and other types of infections. MRSA alone kills over 8,000 patients every year.
Of course, many people survive these infections, but statistics show the number of infections has been rising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are some other potential outcomes caused by MRSA infections:
- Bloodstream infections
- Infections at surgical sites
How Is MRSA Contracted in Healthcare Facilities?
The CDC states that anyone can contract MRSA. Two common ways it is spread are through direct contact with a wound that is infected, or by touching hands that are contaminated with the bacteria. In fact, these hands often belong to healthcare workers.
Can Hospitals Prevent the Spread of MRSA?
- Exercise contact precautions.
- Make sure healthcare workers employ appropriate hand hygiene.
- Use antibiotics appropriately.
- Prioritize cleanliness and sanitization.
- Ensuring that masks are worn by patients and doctors alike
- Implementation of a MRSA monitoring program.
- Teach patients to exercise proper hygiene.
HA-MRSA and Medical Malpractice in Oregon
So, if someone contracted HA-MRSA while seeking medical attention, does that mean medical malpractice has occurred?
Possibly, but not necessarily. To prove medical malpractice, a patient must demonstrate that the hospital or medical professional failed to meet the appropriate standard of care and that this negligence caused the patient’s harm. There are many ways malpractice can contribute to the spread of MRSA.
For example, suppose a worker spreads MRSA that causes harm to a second patient by failing to follow hand-cleaning protocol after working with another patient known to have MRSA. In that case, medical malpractice can likely be proved. Medical malpractice can also occur if MRSA is not treated properly once contracted.
On the other hand, sometimes MRSA can spread when no negligence is present. Thus, careful investigation and evaluation of the circumstances is required.
Call with Questions
In the event of an HA-MRSA infection or other harm that may have been caused by medical malpractice, you will likely have questions about your rights. The medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield help injury victims all across Oregon, and are here to answer your questions with experience, knowledge, and compassion in a free consultation.