Hospital acquired reproductive tract infections are often easily treated, but they can have severe consequences. If you have recently spent time in a hospital or undergone a medical procedure related to your reproductive system and you develop symptoms that could indicate a reproductive tract (REPR) infection, you should contact your doctor immediately.
What should you know about REPR infections and how they are related to time spent in a hospital?
Reproductive Tract Infections
Reproductive tract infections can affect both male and female patients. Though many are treatable, untreated infections can lead to infertility and an increased risk for other health problems. REPR infections can also increase a woman’s chance of developing an ectopic pregnancy, miscarrying, or delivering an unhealthy, pre-term baby. Some REPR infections can also increase a person’s risk of HIV transmission.
Some of the most common REPR infections include those related to endometriosis, episiotomy, hysterectomies, and vaginal cuff surgery. Vaginal cuffs are used to close the vagina when the cervix is removed during a hysterectomy. In some cases, silver nitrate is used to cauterize the vaginal cuff to encourage healing and reduce the risk for infection.
Symptoms of an REPR Infection
Symptoms of an REPR infection can vary a great deal based on the type of infection a patient develops. Symptoms can also be different for men and women. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Pain in or around the pelvis
- Thick, curd-like discharge from the genitals
- Genital itching or soreness
- Painful intercourse
- Redness or swelling of the genitals
- Sudden onset of a high fever
- Menstrual disturbances
- Fertility problems
How Common are REPR Infections in Hospitals?
Data shows that one in every 20 people admitted to the hospital in the United States will develop an infection during or shortly after their stay. As a matter of fact, hospitals spend a significant amount of time planning and implementing strategies to help them reduce the number of infections developed by patients. Of all the infections patients can experience, urinary tract infections account for about 40%. This is fairly high and the incidences of this type of infection are a major drain on the resources of hospitals.
The use of catheters during procedures and in the recovery period increases a patient’s risk for developing an REPR in the urinary tract. Older patients, patients undergoing urological manipulations, and patients with debilitating disease have a higher risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs). Making matter worse, the pathogens that cause UTIs in hospitals tend to have a higher resistance to antibiotic treatment than standard out-of-hospital urinary tract infections. There is hope that catheters designed with antibiotics inside of them will cut down on UTI rates in the future.
Keep in mind the use of antibiotics for treating UTIs and other REPR infections can affect the health of the reproductive system in women and can cause secondary infections. Yeast infections are common in women taking antibiotics, so speak with your doctor about symptoms to be on the lookout for and ask if any measures can be taken to prevent a yeast infection during your course of antibiotic treatment for the original REPR.
Who is at Fault if I Develop a Hospital Related REPR Infection?
Antibiotic use and other preventative measures are helping hospitals reduce the risk for REPR infections. Though pelvic infections remain fairly common after hysterectomy operations and abdominal incisions are also of serious concern, there are actions the medical staff and patients can take to reduce their risk.
One of the most important things a patient can do following a procedure that puts him or her at risk for an REPR infection is to follow the discharge instructions provided by doctors and nurses. It is important patients ensure they understand all instructions associated with at-home care after a procedure and that their caretakers are also aware of what needs to be done during the recovery phase.
If you or a loved one developed an REPR infection following a medical procedure performed in a hospital, an experienced attorney can provide information to help you determine whether or not you might be entitled to compensation. If you would like to know more about REPR infections or any other type of hospital acquired infection (HAI) and what your rights are regarding HAI infections, we can help.