Antibiotic-resistant infections acquired in hospital settings can have lethal consequences for patients. These infections are often acquired while an individual recovers from surgical procedures. During this time, an individual’s weakened immune system allows the infection to spread rapidly. Even with prompt treatment, the infection often overwhelms the immune system and kills the patient.
The Rising Tide of Concern Over Antibiotic Resistant Infections
In September 2016, a female patient in a Reno hospital succumbed to an incurable infection o carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriacae which she had acquired abroad several years ago. The “superbug” was able to fend off 26 potent antibiotics. Ultimately, the patient succumbed to the infection.
Nationwide, it is estimated that 2 million people each year are infected with a bacteria that is resistant to at least one class of antibiotic treatment. Of these, it is estimated that 23,000 will succumb to the infection. These bacteria have become resistant due to mutations or via the process of conjugating with other bacteria.
The presence of an antibiotic resistant infection in a Nevada hospital has raised alarms at the CDC. Each year, nearly 1.7 million patients suffer from hospital acquired infections which are also known as nosocomial infections. Of these, nearly 99,000 succumb to their infections. The presence of an antibiotic resistant bacteria that is resistant to all known antibiotic treatments could cause these numbers to climb rapidly.
To date, the following are among the most commonly discovered antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States:
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriacae
- Drug Resistant Neisseria Gonorrhoeae
- Non-Typhoidal Salmonella
- Drug-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
- Drug-resistant Tuberculosis
Each of these bacteria can flourish and be transferred in hospital settings. Patients afflicted with these bacteria can contaminate surfaces and medical equipment. These bacteria can find entry to other patients via wounds, skin contact, or inhalation. This makes hospitals a perfect breeding ground for the spread of these dangerous bacteria.
Assigning Liability for Lethal Infections
Liability for the acquisition of an antibiotic resistant bacteria can fall on many parties. For example, a Las Vegas injury lawyer can hold the hospital liable for improper sterilization of equipment while the manufacturer of a medical device could be held liable for creating a device that contains crevices and cavities that allow for antibiotic-resistant infections to grow and flourish. Finally, members of the medical team may be held liable for failing to adhere to universal precautions and sterilization techniques designed to prevent the transfer and spread of bacteria and viruses.