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Superbug infections create hospital liabilities and safety risks

"Superbugs," or drug-resistant infections, are an increasingly alarming problem in hospitals throughout the country. Not only are they a serious risk to public health, but they often put hospitals at a greater liability risk in patient lawsuits.

In our last blog, we discussed how to defend against these types of claims. In this entry, we are going to examine what hospitals need to do to help prevent the spread drug-resistant infections in their facilities.

Sometimes it can be unclear what caused a patient to die in the hospital, particularly in time to include it on the victim's death certificate. Additionally, doctors and other medical staff often lack proper training and protocol to fill out the forms correctly. Here in Ohio, for example, there were no "superbug" deaths reported, but a recent Reuters investigation counted 10,469 cases from 2003 to 2014.

There is little hospitals can do on their side to speed up official reporting procedures for drug-resistant infections from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The following preventive steps can be taken, however, to protect your patients, staff - and the hospital from future liability:

  1. Prevent infections from catheters and after surgery - Both surgeries and catheters can serve as pathways for infections to enter the body. Make sure your hospital teams are following recommendations for safer surgery and proper catheter insertion and care.
  2. Prevent bacteria from spreading - Be knowledgeable about antibiotic-resistant infections in your region. Use gloves, gowns and dedicated medical equipment for each patient and use proper hand hygiene at all times.
  3. Improve antibiotic use - Start antibiotics promptly when they are needed, using the proper dose, frequency and duration. Use cultures to reassess the need for antibiotics, and discontinue as soon as they are no longer required.

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