Hospital Infections and Spinal Cord Injury Patients

91px-Galago_spine_Mivart-46x300According to a recent study conducted at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and reported in Digital Journal, certain hospital-acquired infections at San Diego healthcare facilities can have a long-term negative impact on spinal cord injury (SCI) patients. SCI patients who acquire pneumonia and other infections while at the hospital being treated for their catastrophic injuries see a drastic impact on their ability to recover. Specifically, the report indicates that “hospital-acquired pneumonia and wound infections negatively affect the clinic long-term outcome after acute traumatic spinal cord injury.” The study appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology.

Importance of Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infections in California

One of the most significant takeaways from the recent Ohio State study is that hospitals must do more to prevent hospital-acquired infections if they are going to see spinal cord injury patients recover to the best of their abilities. Patient protection demands that hospitals take additional steps to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections if they are going to take patient safety seriously. As the report explains, “rates of microbial infections in hospitals, although falling due to improved hygiene, remain problematic.”

The Ohio State study looked at data from a time period of more than 30 years and also analyzed information housed by the U.S. National Spinal Cord Injury Database. The researchers assessed information from more than 3,800 spinal cord injury patients, and it zoomed in on 1,203 patients for the study. Of those patients, 564 (or about 47%) acquired pneumonia or a wound infection while in the hospital for care related to the spinal cord injury (both acute medical and inpatient rehabilitative care). As the report explains, “because spinal cord injuries can cause a ‘paralysis’ of the immune system, patients are not able to compensate even long-term for the effect of a pneumonia acquired during the acute phase.”

Dr. Jan M. Schwab, the lead researcher on the study, articulated how the study demonstrates the need to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections as soon as possible to improve the rehabilitative potential for SCI patients: “These findings provide the first extensive prospective analytical evidence that hospital-acquired infections are predictive for worse outcome with respect to both survival and long-term functional outcome after spinal cord injury.” In short, a person who contracts a hospital-acquired infection while being treated for a spinal cord injury stands less of a chance of surviving in the short term, as well as less of a chance of long-term functionality.

Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries

What causes spinal cord injuries? According to the Mayo Clinic, SCIs can result from many different types of trauma, including damage to the vertebrae, damage to the ligaments, damage to the disks of the spinal column, and damage specifically to the spinal cord.

The most common causes include the following:

  • Car accidents;
  • Fall-related injuries;
  • Intentional violence;
  • Sports-related injuries;
  • Alcohol use; and
  • Disease.

If you or someone you love acquired an infection while being treated for a spinal cord injury, you may be able to file a medical negligence claim. You should discuss your case with a San Diego spinal cord injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about seeking financial compensation for your injuries.

See Related Blog Posts:

Spinal Cord Injuries and Older Adults

Spinal Cord Injury Breakthroughs: Fact or Fiction?

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