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C. diff — the bane of medical facilities

One of the dreaded complications for hospital or nursing home patients is acquiring Clostridium difficile infection. Known as C. diff, this infection was found to be the primary cause of death from gastroenteritis, and based on death certificates in the United States in 2007, it led to 14,000 fatalities in that year alone.

Hospitals are hotbeds of C. diff outbreaks, and it is now the most frequent source of health care–associated infections in hospitals nationwide. The costs of combating this insidious infection in acute care facilities has been estimated to be nearly $5 billion.

Research was conducted in 2011 in 10 separate geographic areas of the county in order to identify cases of C. diff infections. Diagnoses were made from stool specimens that tested positive for C. diff, and cases were categorized as either health care- or community-associated.

Researchers identified 15,461 cases of C. diff infections in the 10 geographic location. Of those, 65.8 percent were determined to be health care–associated, while only 24.2 percent had the onset during the patient's hospitalization. Adjusted numbers of incidents of C. diff infections in America was 453,000. Older white females had higher infection rates.

All told, C. difficile caused nearly a half million infections and was a co-morbidity factor in roughly 29,000 deaths in 2011. As anyone can imagine, this virulent bug can wreak havoc among vulnerable populations in medical settings.

So if you or a loved one are battling C. diff after a surgical procedure or hospital stay, does that mean that the facility or provider was medically negligent to cause your infection? Not necessarily, but it could. Much depends on the circumstances surrounding the infection and the reason for your hospitalization.

Medical malpractice cases are among the most complex of all. To get a clearer picture of potential liability issues, seek professional legal advice in New Jersey.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Clostridium difficile Infection," accessed Sep. 23, 2016

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