Staph Infections Can Be Highly Contagious

Staphylococcus, or staph, consists of bacteria that causes infection. It presents a particular hazard for hospital patients in Illinois. Bacteria can enter any type of opening in the skin, and may spread and affect the blood, bones, joints and any organ. Staph is spread from person to person easily, and anyone can become infected. The skin around catheters, chest tubes and central lines are just a few of the places patients are more susceptible to acquiring staph infections.

Skin-to-skin contact is the most common form of germ transmission. Not all individuals acquire infections from having the bacteria on their skin. A carrier colonized with staph can spread it to others. When a health care provider’s normal skin bacteria are staph, this presents a danger to patients. Many Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are aware that doctors and nurses may transmit germs from one patient to another.

Safety protocols

Hospitals have safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of staph germs and subsequent infections. Proper hand washing techniques are the best way to protect patients from infections. These involve the following:

  • Wetting the hands and wrists
  • Applying soap
  • Rubbing all parts of the hands until the soap bubbles
  • Rinsing with running water
  • Drying with a clean paper towel
  • Using a paper towel to turn off the faucet

In addition to washing hands thoroughly, health care workers should always wear gloves and protective clothing when treating wounds and other openings in the skin. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers understand that handling bodily fluids also presents an opportunity for staph to spread. When skin is red, swollen or crusty, a doctor should collect a sample from blood, spit or an open wound or rash to perform a skin culture.

Results of negligence

Staph causes 1.2 million hospital infections every year, according to a study performed by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. This represents over 20 percent of all hospital-acquired infections. Any time safety protocol is not followed precisely, a health care provider or hospital staff member fails to exercise reasonable care. Hospital mistakes caused by carelessness and unintentional harm are considered negligence.

Hospital patients have the right to ask health care providers if safety protocols such as proper hand washing have been followed. When individuals contract staph infections due to negligence, they may be entitled to compensation for medical costs associated with treatment, pain and suffering. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers may be able to provide legal advice on the best way to proceed.