Bone and joint infections can be common for people receiving treatment in the hospital. These infections usually occur as a result of exposure to methicillin resistant staph germs. In general, hospital infections are extremely common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one person in every 25 admitted to the hospital develops an infection during or shortly after his or her stay. Sadly, about 100,000 of these people die each year as a result. It is possible to reduce the incidences of all hospital infections and bone and joint infections in particular, but it takes effort from both the hospital staff and patients.
What do you need to know about bone and joint infections related to hospital stays?
MRSAs and Bone and Joint Infections
MRSAs are one of the most common causes of infections in the bones. These types of infections are extremely difficult to treat because of their resistant qualities. In most cases, if a patient develops a bone infection during his or her hospital stay, the length of stay is increased.
MRSAs are a type of staph infection. Staph is a germ that can trigger an infection anywhere in the body. The most common type of staph infection is in the skin. Many hospital patients develop staph infections because tube insertion or surgical wound sites are not property cared for or protected.
Once staph has entered the body it can affect the health of bones and joints. It is also possible for staph to affect any organ or the blood. Staph can transfer from person to person. Hospital patients experience a heightened risk when exposed to staph germs because their immune systems are compromised.
The majority of staph infections in hospitals are transferred through skin to skin contact. For instance, doctors and nurses can have staph germs on their bodies and spread them to patients through direct contact during care. This is why it is so important for hospital staff to observe proper hygiene and require the same from visitors. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be effective for preventing the spread of staph, but should not replace hand washing. Though it might seem uncomfortable, patients are encouraged to ask staff if they have washed their hands prior to receiving treatment or care in a hospital.
In addition to hand washing, hospital staff can also prevent the spread of staph by wearing cloves and protective clothing when near catheters and IVs, observing proper sterilizing techniques, cleaning up quickly after sills, surgeries, and various other procedures, and closely monitoring the healing of wounds.
Symptoms of a Staph Infection
Irritated skin can indicate a staph infection. If skin appears swollen, crusty, or red, a staph infection could be present.
Once the infection travels to a bone or joint, patients might experience:
- Bone pain
- General discomfort
- Pain in lower back
- Swelling, redness, or warmth
- Excessive sweating
- Extremities swelling
- Lower back ache
When staph enters the bones it can be life threatening. A compromised immune system from illness, injury, or treatment allows for rapid growth of bacteria. Other medical issues can further exacerbate the problem. Treatment for MRSA bone and joint infections is usually very aggressive.
How Common are Hospital Related Staph Infections?
MRSAs are one of the most common hospital infections. For instance, hospitals in Pennsylvania report a total of 1,840 infections reported in 2011. This accounted for about 8% of all of the state’s hospital infections for the year. Most of these were skin, cardiovascular, or surgical site MRSAs.
Who is at Fault if I Develop a Hospital Related Bone or Joint Infection?
Though patients have some responsibility for protecting themselves during a hospital stay, they can only bear so much of the burden. They are vulnerable and it is impossible for them to monitor the actions of hospital staff at all times. Hospitals can and should be held accountable when patients develop a bone or joint infection as a result of carelessness or oversight.
It is important to understand that most bone and joint infections caused by staph were preventable. If a hospital did not take the proper precautions to prevent an infection that leads to serious medical consequences, a patient has the right to take legal action, even if an infection was developed after release from the hospital.
If you or a loved one developed a bone or joint infection during or after a hospital stay, 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 bone and joint infections or any other type of hospital infection and your rights, we can help.