Many people visit the hospital or a medical clinic for treatment when suffering from an eye, ear, nose, or throat infection (EENT), but there are some patients that end up with this type of infection after care. They might be admitted to the hospital for something completely unrelated, but because EENT infections can develop quickly and can occur as the result of contagious germs, the infection develops because of their time under medical supervision.
What do you need to know about EENT infections related to hospital stays?
Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Infections
An eye, ear, nose, or throat infection can be complicated and difficult to diagnose because what something that affects one part of the system might be caused by a problem elsewhere. For instance, you might develop an infection in your nose, but feel pain in your eyes or ears. In most cases, EENT infections are fairly mild, but if left untreated they can become serious. Even when the infection is not serious, it can still cause a variety of cosmetic and communicative problems, and can also be extremely uncomfortable.
Some of the most common EENT infections include tonsillitis, epiglottis, perichondritis, and myringitis. Nasal polyps, laryngitis, and Meniere’s Disease can also develop as the result of an EENT infection.
Symptoms of an Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat Infection:
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of smell
- Itchy eyes
- Muffled voice
- Squeaking or squealing when inhaling
- Throat pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or loss of voice
- Inability to breathe through the nose and/or mouth
- Inflamed tonsils
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
Patients who develop EENT infections can have one, several, or all of the above symptoms. Much of it depends on the type and location of the infection.
Serious complications from an EENT infection are rare, but can be severe. Untreated eye infections can lead to blindness and untreated ear infections can cause deafness.
How Common are EENT Infections in Hospitals?
Approximately one in 25 patients develops some kind of secondary infection as a result of their time in a hospital. Since antibiotics are frequently used within hospitals, the types of bacteria and their resistance to antibiotics is different than bacteria outside of the hospital.
Because EENT infections are difficult to track and vary greatly from person to person, there is no way to tell exactly how many are caused by exposure to various bacteria in a hospital. Your best bet is to receive as clear a diagnosis as possible if you are experiencing symptoms and speak to an expert who can help you determine whether your infection was related to your hospital stay.
The spread of many infections can be stopped with common sense precautions, such as hand washing and surface cleaning. If a stay in the hospital is in your future, take time to speak with those treating you about preventing infections. If you are prone to certain types of illnesses or you have a history of EENT health issues, be sure to let your treatment providers know. Never be afraid to speak up on your own behalf during a hospital stay.
Who is at Fault if I Develop a Hospital Related EENT Infection?
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when an EENT infection develops. Many EENT infections are caused by exposure to bacteria, so if a hospital or medical facility is unsanitary and bacteria are present, patients have a high risk for developing an infection during or after their stay. In most cases, EENT infections and the side effects associated with them are treatable with antibiotics. However, if undiagnosed or not caught in time, there can be permanent damage as a result of an EENT infection developed during a hospital stay.
Patients have some responsibility for protecting their health during their hospital stay, but it is impossible to know exactly what risks you face. This is especially true if you are incapacitated during all or part of your time in a medical facility. If you or a loved one developed an EENT infection during or after a hospital stay and the infection resulted in long-term or permanent damage to your body, an experienced attorney can provide the support and education needed to determine whether or not a lawsuit is necessary. If you would like to know more about EENT infections or any other type of hospital infection and your rights, we can help.