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Is This New Hospital-Acquired Infection a Threat to US Hospitals?

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 15-May-2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is alarmed over the spread of a treatment-resistant fungal infection in American hospitals. According to the CDC, more than 60 U.S. patients have been sickened by Candida auris (C. auris), a drug-resistant fungus. There are reports of this hospital-acquired-infection in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana, Massachusetts and Illinois.

C. auris has health officials alarmed for several reasons, such as:

  • It can spread easily: C. auris spreads easily between patients because it can survive on skin, clothing and hospital surfaces for months. Patients may be infected by coming into contact with contaminated bed railings, chairs or other hospital equipment.
  • It is tough to diagnose: Last year, the CDC warned hospitals that C. auris is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods. Patients infected with the fungus may be at higher risk of being misdiagnosed and given ineffective treatments.
  • It is resistant to antifungals: Some strains of C. auris are resistant to all three classes of antifungal medications. Unlike other yeast infections, C. auris is more difficult to treat. CDC statistics show 60 percent of infected patients have died.

Many patients infected with C. auris had been hospitalized for several weeks. The CDC claims patients with diabetes and recent surgeries are at an increased risk of infection. Patients recently treated with central venous catheters, antibiotics and antifungals are also at risk.

Why Are Superbugs a Major Threat to Patient Safety?

C. auris is one of several treatment resistant infections harming patients in American hospitals. However, C. auris is different in that it is fungus and not a bacterium. CDC statistics show antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill more than 23,000 hospital patients each year. Sanitation must remain a top priority for hospitals. Superbugs can linger on hospital surfaces, such as clothing or railing. They can remain dormant within the crevices of medical devices, such as duodenoscopes. Doctors can also transfer superbug infections to patients.

Delaying treatments for hospital-acquired infections or failing to follow basic disinfection protocols may constitute medical malpractice when patients are harmed. Patients or their family members may be able to file lawsuits against hospitals for neglecting these important duties.

The Washington DC medical malpractice attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC can discuss possible legal options with patients or their family members.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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