Articles Posted in Infections

levin perconti newborn illness

Ongoing Bacterial Infection Kills 3 Pennsylvania Preemies

At Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania, three infants have died, and five others have become ill in the neonatal intensive care (NICU) unit since July 2019. A waterborne bacterial infection, which is preventable, is to blame. The children were born prematurely with weakened immune systems. They all became ill once infected by the pseudomonas bacteria, a common strain found in hospital settings when the hands of healthcare workers or contaminated equipment are not adequately cleaned. Patients, such as those infants in the NICU who require breathing machines, are potentially at risk for serious, life-threatening infections related to the bacteria.

A hospital official said that Geisinger has taken “extensive measures” to stop the infection from spreading, including “achieving optimal chlorination in water lines, improving and maintaining vigilance in donor breast milk processing, routine tap water cultures, increased deep cleaning of our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and many others.”

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Miscommunication Among Hospital Staff Can Lead to Serious Patient Infections 

Researchers from the University of Michigan investigated infections caused by catheters (urethral or suprapubic) showing that the devices may cause unnecessary infections to patients due to poor communication of health care professionals. The findings were first published in the July 2019 volume of the American Journal of Critical Care, mimicking what previous studies have said and agreeing that when catheters remain in too long, infection is more likely to follow.

Indwelling catheters are a type of catheter commonly used in both hospital and long-term care settings as a urinary assistance device that collects urine from the bladder and disposes of it through a drainage bag. A nurse, or another trained healthcare provider, is the person responsible for performing a safe catheter insertion or removal through the urethra or sometimes through a tiny hole in the abdomen.

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Information About Sepsis Dangers and Sepsis-Associated Deaths in Hospital Settings 

When a person’s immune system becomes compromised, the body can respond in deadly ways, such as septicemia, a lethal condition more commonly known as – sepsis. A 2019 Critical Care Medicine investigative report confirmed that sepsis is highly present in hospitals and that it contributes significantly to patient deaths, some preventable. About one-third of people who develop sepsis will die from it, and as many as 65 percent of those people were being treated for another issue in a hospital setting at the time of their sepsis diagnosis.

Sepsis occurs when a person develops a bacterial infection in their bloodstream. It can happen to any patient, at any age. For those who survive, many will be left in a life-altering state and battle conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction, brain and heart conditions, and disabling amputations. Family members and caregivers may also become exhausted and depressed due to the difficult recovery and therapies their loved one now requires. 

“To know that this happens is our country, that’s unacceptable.” 

-Sue Sheridan, patient safety advocate, in To Err Is Human

The medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti recently watched To Err Is Human, a newly released documentary showing the frequency and impact of medical errors upon American families. To see the facts relating to the frequency and severity of medical errors combined with the heart wrenching story of a family forever changed by these mistakes has left a lasting impression on all of us.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to hospital safety, has released their biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report, showing an overall improvement in Illinois hospitals since the spring. According to Leapfrog, the survey measures hospital patient safety by the number of “errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” Participation by hospitals is optional and this fall, 110 Illinois hospitals agreed to take part. According to the data collected, Leapfrog rated Illinois hospitals as #13 overall, an improvement from #15 this past spring.

In a time where the increasing problem of medical errors is finally being given the platform it deserves, the survey is more relevant now than ever. The Leapfrog Group, citing an often quoted 2016 Johns Hopkins study, notes that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Patient safety and healthcare provider accountability is essential for all hospitals and healthcare organizations. Below is our analysis of the Fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report for participating Illinois hospitals.


Illinois & Metro Chicago Hospital Results

Ratings from the annual Hospital Safety Grade Report from Leapfrog Group are now available and 15 Illinois hospitals have lost their ‘A’ rating since last year. This year, Illinois has 30 hospitals who received an A, down from 45 just last year. The Hospital Safety Grade Report “scores hospitals on how safe they keep their patients from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” According to the Leapfrog Group, the focus is to bring patient safety information to the public and reduce the number of hospital mistakes and injuries, incidents that are responsible for 440,000 deaths each year.

Data is collected from hospital surveys, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and secondary sources, including the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey. In all, 27 different patient safety measures are evaluated, the data is weighted and then each hospital is given a rating (A-F). It is important to note that free standing pediatric hospitals, long term care facilities, and specialty centers (such as cancer treatment hospitals) are not included in Leapfrog’s annual Hospital Safety Grade Report.

Of the 27 measures, 12 related to Process and Structural Measures (everything from ‘Hand Hygiene’ to ‘Identification and Mitigation of Risks and Hazards’) and 15 related to Outcome Measures (from MRSA and CDiff infections, all the way to death during surgery). To view the 27 measures, please click here.

A cyst removal should be considered a routine procedure, not one that causes more severe injuries. Yet for one woman, this is exactly what happened. The woman underwent a procedure for the removal of a cyst. However, after the procedure the woman suffered from a severe shoulder joint infection. The woman filed a lawsuit in Cook County alleging the doctor failed to perform the procedure properly and did not provide adequate care. The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000.

About Cysts

A cyst is a closed sac-like structure that can be located in almost any part of the body. There are many types of cysts but most of them feel like small bumps that may be painful to the touch. Cysts may be filled with various materials such as liquid, semi-solid, or gaseous substances. Most cysts do not pose any health risks; however, in some cases it is best to remove them. This is particularly important if they are located near an organ or if they are causing pain or discomfort.
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A woman filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The lawsuit alleges that a nurse used needles potentially contaminated with HIV and hepatitis B and C. The woman is seeking damages and medical expenses in excess of $50,000. According to the lawsuit, the woman was a patient at the hospital for treatment of a gluteal abscess and polymicrobial sepsis. Because she was a type I diabetic, she required insulin injections several times per day. The nurse administered the insulin shots. Later, doctors informed the woman that the nurse used the wrong needles. Even worse, the needles she used were previously used on a patient who was positive for HIV as well as hepatitis B and C.

HIV and AIDs
HIV and AIDs are typically transmitted through sexual contact or through the sharing of contaminated needles. In this instance, the woman may suffer from dangerous and life threatening injuries that may not be immediately evident. HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, causes a compromised immune system, which can lead to AIDS, and can be dangerous or fatal to patients. HIV may take months or even years after exposure to show up in the person’s system. There is no actual cure for HIV, although treatments have been able to successfully suppress or slow the disease in some cases.
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When you go to the hospital you expect to get proper care to resolve your medical condition. However, recent studies have found that some patients are actually acquiring infections at hospitals, causing serious illness or even death. According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 25 hospital patients contracts an infection while in the facility. This amounts to more than 720,000 patients a year. While not all of the infections contracted are serious, some are deadly. It is estimated that 75,000 people died because of hospital acquired infections in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 deaths per day. This number seems staggering, yet it may be growing.

Types of Hospital-Acquired Infections
People expect a hospital to be a sterile and safe place. Yet there are a large number of infections that people get after arriving at the facility. About half of the infections are contracted inside the ICU while the other half are contracted in the general care rooms or as a result of surgery. The most common infections that occur in hospitals include:
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A woman is suing her doctors along with an Evanston hospital after a misdiagnosis led to the partial amputation of her foot. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that the doctors misdiagnosed a foot injury. The woman visited the hospital after having stepped on a needle. She was misdiagnosed with cellulitis, given a prescription for Cipro and sent home. Three days later, after the symptoms worsened, the woman was admitted to the hospital and developed gangrene in her foot. This caused the amputation of one of her toes and surrounding tissues. The lawsuit further states that the doctor failed to properly monitor her condition and did not order an MRI in a timely manner. Had that been done, the outcome would likely have been very different.

Misdiagnosis by Doctors
Misdiagnosis is a form of negligence or malpractice on the part of a doctor. Doctors and medical professionals are held to a high standard and are obligated to provide the proper level of care. When they do not take the steps necessary to determine a correct diagnosis, they are negligent in their duties. Further, when the negligence leads to serious injury or death, the doctor can be held responsible. In this case, the woman ended up losing part of her foot, an injury that will have lifelong consequences. The lawsuit states that the doctor waited too long to provide the right medical treatment, resulting in gangrene and the loss of a toe.
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