Hospital-Acquired Infections: How Negligence Plays a Role – A Blog by Sweeney Solicitors
Hospitals are revered institutions of healing, offering respite from ailments and injuries. Yet,
sometimes, they become unintentional grounds for new infections. Hospital-acquired infections
(HAIs) can be an unsettling reality for patients seeking care. The role of negligence in such cases
cannot be understated, and understanding this relationship is pivotal. At Sweeney Solicitors, we are
committed to raising awareness about HAIs and the potential legal avenues for those affected. This
blog delves deep into the nexus of hospital-acquired infections and medical negligence in Ireland.
1. Unravelling Hospital-Acquired Infections
HAIs refer to infections that patients contract while receiving treatment for another condition in a
healthcare facility, with symptoms usually manifesting 48 hours after admission. Common HAIs
- MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- C. difficile (Clostridium difficile)
- Surgical site infections
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
2. How Does Negligence Factor In?
While not every HAI is a result of negligence, certain scenarios distinctly highlight subpar care:
- Poor Hygiene Practices: This can be as simple as healthcare professionals not washing hands
regularly or adequately.
- Improper Sterilization: Not thoroughly sterilizing surgical instruments or medical equipment.
- Lack of Infection Control Measures: Inefficient isolation of infected patients or poor ventilation
- Antibiotic Misuse: Over-prescription or incorrect administration can lead to antibiotic-resistant
3. The Impact of HAIs
The consequences of contracting an HAI can range from extended hospital stays to severe health
complications, and unfortunately, sometimes even death. Beyond the physical impact:
- Emotional Distress: The knowledge of contracting an infection in a place of healing can be
- Financial Implications: Extended treatments, medication, and additional hospital stays add to
4. Legal Recourse in Ireland
If you believe you or a loved one contracted an HAI due to negligence:
- Documentation is Crucial: Maintain thorough records of your hospital stay, treatments
received, and any communications related to the infection.
- Engage Expert Legal Aid: Navigating medical negligence claims can be complex. At Sweeney
Solicitors, our seasoned team is equipped to guide you through every step.
- Remember the Time Limits: In Ireland, there is typically a two-year window from the time the
negligence is identified to initiate a legal claim.
5. The Pathway to Justice
The process for pursuing a claim involves:
- Initial Consultation: Discussing the intricacies of your case with a solicitor to understand its
- Gathering Evidence: This includes medical records, expert opinions, and possibly testimony
from healthcare professionals.
- Initiating the Claim: If there’s substantial evidence, the legal process begins.
- Resolution: Most cases find resolution outside of the courtroom through settlements.
However, if required, the case may go to trial.
While hospitals remain our sanctuaries of health, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks like
HAIs. Through vigilance, awareness, and legal safeguards, patients can protect themselves and seek
redress when needed. At Sweeney Solicitors, our mission is to stand with victims of medical
negligence, ensuring their voices are heard, and justice is sought. If you’ve faced the ordeal of an HAI
and believe negligence was at play, we’re here to help.