I took my husband to the emergency room after he had a fall at home and cut his head. The doctor put in sixteen stitches, and later on an infection originated from the wound that they treated. A second doctor said that the infection had escalated to sepsis. Is the hospital at fault here?
Patients can acquire an infection at a hospital in a number of different ways, and for a variety of different reasons. There are three main types of risk factors associated with the development of a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) in a treatment setting: patient-related risk factors, organizational risk factors, and iatrogenic risk factors (which basically means cleanliness and health practices in the treatment environment).
As with any other medical malpractice case, in order to hold a doctor or hospital liable, you'll need to establish that medical negligence occurred, and that it led directly to some actual harm suffered by your husband. It's not enough to show evidence that the infection occurred. You need to tie it to some unsafe practice at the hospital or the provision of sub-standard care by a hospital employee.
Whether it’s the hospital, a physician, or an employee, the defendant's liability usually needs to be established by a qualified expert medical witness (a neutral third party medical doctor) who examines the treatment situation and determines if there was compliance with the appropriate medical standard of care at every turn. Specifically, the expert analyzes the different risk factors to figure out where a departure from the accepted medical standard of care might have led to a hospital-acquired infection (HAI).
In many states, you would need to have an expert witness (or your attorney) file a sworn statement with the court -- along with the medical malpractice complaint -- attesting that there is adequate evidence of the defendant’s liability.