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1 in 4 Seniors Bring Superbugs Home from Hospitals… On Their Hands!

On Behalf of | May 5, 2016 | Medical Malpractice

Superbugs are one of the biggest threats to modern medicine, and we’re all at risk.

They’re “bugs” because they’re infectious. They’re “super” because they’re largely resistant to most (if not all) of the available antibiotic regiments. And as antibiotics continue to be misused and over-prescribed, their “superpowers” only grow.

While superbugs can infect anyone, populations at especially high risk include children, seniors, and the immunocompromised.

Now, a new study finds that 1 out of every 4 senior citizens leaves their hospital with superbugs on their hands. Those bugs are then easily spread to others — in restaurants, stores, transportation systems, senior living communities, and more.

The University of Michigan Health System, which conducted the study, suggests that these findings present an opportunity for patients to better educate themselves on hand hygiene and infection control.

While that might be true, it would be a mistake to shift the blame to patients while absolving hospitals — which are in a position to minimize superbug infection — from their responsibility in this growing epidemic.

A Closer Look at the Superbug Study

University of Michigan researchers monitored 357 senior citizens who had recently been admitted to a hospital and then required additional post-acute care (PAC) shortly thereafter. PAC is a common recommendation for senior patients.

24.1% of the patients had at least one superbug (i.e. multidrug-resistant organism, or MDRO) on their hands upon admittance at the PAC facility. Presumably, most had acquired the MDRO during their recent hospital stays.

The researchers continued to study these patients’ hands, first at the two-week mark after admittance to the PAC facility, and then again monthly for six months after that (or until they were discharged from the PAC facility and allowed to go home).

The study found that not only did the superbugs persist but they actually flourished. Even more seniors acquired superbugs during or after their PAC stay, bringing the total incidence rate up from 24.1% to 34.2%.

Hospital Liability for Superbugs

Superbugs are not simply a fact of life. While they can be hard or even possible to treat, they are much easier to prevent.

In fact, hospitals have a number of technologies and procedures available to them for killing infectious bacteria and preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections, or HAIs.

Unfortunately, many medical facilities fail to make the necessary investments to adequately protect their patients. Moreover, many facilities (and the doctors or nurses who run them) are simply negligent when it comes to everyday hygiene and sanitation.

As Miami medical malpractice attorneys, we’ve seen entirely too many families plagued by superbugs and/or HAIs after a hospital stay in Florida. In those cases, victims may be able to take legal action against the hospital or care provider.

Hospitals aren’t the only problem areas, either. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, laboratories, and other facilities might also be held liable.

Ask Our Miami Medical Malpractice Attorneys About Hospital Liability

The battle against superbugs requires a lot more than a simple reminder to patients that they should wash their hands. Hospitals and doctors have an imperative role to play here, and it’s up to patients to hold those parties responsible for their negligence.

If you have questions about hospital liability for superbugs or HAIs, please contact the Miami medical malpractice attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC right away.

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Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.