When you got to the hospital, you expect to get well. However, hospitals are full of germs. When doctors, nurses and hospital staff don’t take proper precautions, these germs can be spread from person to person.

You’ve probably heard of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a difficult-to-treat staph infection. But MRSA isn’t the only hospital-acquired infection present in Des Moinres medical facilities. Here a list of ten dangerous bacterial infections associated with hospitals.

  1. Acinetobacter. Acinetobacter bacteria are commonly found in soil and water. It also occurs on human skin. Acinetobacter bacteria can live on dry surfaces for up to 20 days. The bacteria are usually harmless to healthy individuals, but can cause serious illnesses in patients who are in intensive care units or other health care settings. Acinetobacter bacteria are resistant to many classes of antibiotics and can be very difficult to treat.
  2. Burkholderia cepacia. Burkholderia cepacia are another group of bacteria that normally live in soil and water. The bacteria are harmless to healthy patients, but can cause potentially fatal pneumonia in patients with compromised immune systems or lung problems. The bacteria are hardy enough to survive in antiseptic solutions such as betadine topical antiseptic and chlorhexadine mouthwash. Infections must be treated with multiple antibiotics.
  3. Clostridium difficile. The species Clostridium difficile is a normal inhabitant of the colon. When a patient takes antibiotics, other bacteria in the colon die off and the colon becomes overrun with C. difficile. This can cause fever, diarrhea, and a potentially fatal inflammation of the colon called colitis. The bacteria can be passed from patient to patient in a healthcare setting.
  4. Clostridium sordellii. Clostridium Sordellii is an infection caused by a rare and very dangerous bacteria linked to toxic shock syndrome, pneumonia, endocarditis (infection of the heart), arthritis, peritonitis (infection of the abdominal lining), myonecrosis (muscle infection), and sepsis. It is often associated with gynecological and post-partum infections. The infection is very dangerous to the elderly, newborns, and patients with compromised immune systems. The bacteria are resistant to some types of antibiotics. Infections are often fatal.
  5. Enterobacteriaceae (carbapenem-resistant). The carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are a family of infectious bacteria that include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Salmonella, Shigella, and Klebsiella. CRE infections are most common in patients who have taken long courses of antibiotics. The infections also associated with urinary catheters, intravenous catheters and ventilators. CRE is considered a superbug because it is resistant to almost all available antibiotics. More than half of patients infected with CRE die.
  6. Hepatitis. There have been hospital outbreaks of hepatitis A, B, and C. Outbreaks are usually due to unsafe injection practices or lapses in infection control. These viral infections affect the liver.
  7. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is transmitted by contact with infected blood. HIV can be transmitted in healthcare settings, but hospital-acquired HIV is very rare because hospitals take precautions to prevent blood-borne illness.
  8. Influenza. The common flu can be very dangerous to the elderly and those who are already ill. Visitors and staff who do not practice proper hygiene spread the flu. Hospital acquired influenza is rarely fatal, but it can prolong hospital stays.
  9. Klebsiella bacteria. Klebsiella pneumonia is a bacterium that is normally found in the human intestines. These bacteria may cause pneumonia (Friedländer's pneumonia) meningitis, blood stream infections, and urinary tract infections in patients with compromised immune systems. Some strains of Klebsiella pneumonia are resistant to many antibiotics. Klebsiella pneumonia is also common in alcoholics.
  10. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a staph bacteria species that is resistant to many common antibiotics. Staphylococcus aureus can cause skin infections in healthy individuals and can cause flesh-eating bacteria syndrome (necrotizing fasciitis), muscle infection, pneumonia, and inflammation of the heart (endocarditis) in those with impaired immune systems.

These aren’t all the possible hospital-acquired infections that may be present in Des Moines hospitals. Read more about hospital-acquired infection in part two of this series, Seven More Hospital Acquired Infections Every Des Moines Patient Should Know About.

Did you lose someone you love to a hospital-acquired infection in Des Moines? Your family deserves accountability. To learn more about wrongful death claims in Iowa, please contact the Des Moines personal injury attorneys at Hupy and Abraham at 888-807-2752.


Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.