Pneumonia is a dangerous infection that affects many people in the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.1 million people were hospitalized with pneumonia in 2010, and 50,000 people died from the infection. While many people contract pneumonia as a result of exposure to bacteria and viruses in the community, a patient may be exposed to pneumonia while staying in a hospital for an unrelated ailment.
- mental changes;
- loss of appetite;
- decreased blood pressure;
- a cough with phlegm; and
- sharp chest pain.
If you or a loved one has acquired pneumonia while staying in the hospital because of the irresponsibility or negligence of the hospital staff, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.
What is hospital-acquired pneumonia?
Hospital-acquired pneumonia refers to pneumonia that a patient contracted while in the hospital. While pneumonia is dangerous regardless of how it’s contracted, those who are exposed to pneumonia while in the hospital may be particularly vulnerable to this disease. Because the germs that are in a hospital are typically more dangerous than those that are in public or communal areas, according MedlinePlus, and because hospital patients already have weaker immune systems. In most cases, hospital-acquired pneumonia can be very dangerous, if not deadly.
In a hospital, pneumonia is usually passed to a patient through healthcare workers who don’t take the proper precautions or sanitary measures, such as washing their hands properly or wearing gloves. Other cases are the result of ventilators contaminated with pathogens; this is called ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Pneumonia in Hospital Patients: Who’s at risk?
Anyone who is a patient in a hospital is at risk for developing pneumonia if the bacteria and viruses are present within the hospital. Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may cause viral pneumonia, while Streptococcus pneumonia may cause bacterial pneumonia.
According to MedlinePlus, patients who are especially prone to developing pneumonia while in the hospital:
- are alcoholic;
- have had a chest surgery;
- have undergone major surgery;
- have a weakened immune system, such as from drugs like those used to treat cancer;
- have chronic lung disease;
- are elderly; and
- have breathing or swallowing problems that result in saliva or food entering the lungs.
Additionally, patients who need assistance breathing and therefore use a respirator are also at higher risk to develop pneumonia.
Who’s liable for hospital-acquired pneumonia?
If you or a loved one has acquired pneumonia during a hospital stay in New York, you may be the victim of a healthcare-associated illness caused by the negligence of the hospital staff. If so, you deserve to be compensated for your pain, suffering, and medical costs. If the hospital did not take the proper precautions and level of care to protect you during your stay, the hospital may be liable for your infection and related damages.
Taking Legal Action in New York
Speak with an attorney familiar with personal injury and medical malpractice law to learn more about holding the hospital liable for your pneumonia and damages.
The attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. help New York patients:
- file medical malpractice claims;
- understand what documents they’ll need; and
- guide them through the compensation and lawsuit process.
For a free case review and to get started filing your claim, call us today at 800-550-0000.