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Is contracting an infection in a hospital medical malpractice?

It is not unreasonable for New Jersey residents to expect to end up healthier after leaving a hospital than when they went in with an ailment. Unfortunately, many patients leave the hospital with an ailment they did not come in with -- an infection. In some cases, contracting an infection while in the hospital could be considered medical malpractice.

For instance, a man from the Lone Star state went into the hospital for repair of his Achilles tendon. Now, two years later, he is still battling pseudomonas, which is an infection considered to be common in hospitals. He says he will require treatment for his legs twice a day for the rest of his life. He was forced to endure antibiotic infusions twice a day for 10 days. Since he acquired this hospital-borne infection, he has spent nearly 40 days in a hyperbaric chamber.

This man's experience is not as unusual as New Jersey patients might hope. Research indicates that out of every 25 patients, one will leave the hospital with an infection. In addition, somewhere in the neighborhood of 77,000 people die from hospital infections every year. All of those patients and families of the deceased have incurred expenses because of infections contracted in hospitals. In two years, the Texas man has reached over $100,000 in medical costs.

Hospitals and their staff are responsible for the safety and health of their patients. When a patient is somehow harmed by the negligence of a physician or other hospital staff, he or she retains the right to file a medical malpractice claim. Any monetary damages awarded by the courts could cover any current or future medical treatments required. In the case in which a patient dies, the family could receive damages to cover funeral and burial costs.

Source:, "Infections inside hospitals attacking patients", Bill Spencer, May 9, 2014

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