If you are going to a Des Moines hospital for surgery or another planned procedure, you may be concerned about medical mistakes such as surgery on the wrong site or medication mix-ups. You might be surprised to learn that the biggest danger in Iowa hospitals comes from infection. Hospital acquired infections affect more nearly two million patients a year. They kill about 99,000.

This is the second part of our series on hospital-acquired infections in Des Moines hospitals that began with the article, Ten Hospital-Acquired Infections Every Des Moines Patient Should Know About.

  1. Mycobacterium abscessus. Mycobacterium abscessus is related to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis and leprosy. The bacterium is found in soil, dust and water. M. abscessus is a common contaminant in medications and medical devices. Skin infections from M. abscessus occur when patients are given injections without proper cleansing of the skin. M. abscessus can also cause lung infections in patients with suppressed immune systems.
  2. Norovirus. Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. These viruses are very contagious and are spread through contact with infected patients and contaminated objects. Healthcare facilities should routinely take steps to prevent norovirus, which can be dangerous to young children, the elderly, and those who are seriously ill.
  3. Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium that is found on most surfaces, including medical equipment P. aeruginosa from hot tubs and swimming pools can cause mild illness and rash in healthy people. It can cause pneumonia, blood infections, and kidney infections in those with compromised immune systems. In the hospital, P. aeruginosa infections are most common in patients using ventilators and catheters, patients recovering from surgery, and patients with burns.
  4. Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is found on the skin and in the noses of about 30 percent of healthy people. It is usually harmless, but it can cause serious illness in a hospital setting. Infections associated with S. aureus include pneumonia, endocarditis (heart infection), osteomyelitis (bone infection), and sepsis. S. aureus that is resistant to certain types of antibiotics called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.
  5. Tuberculosis (TB). Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes tuberculosis or TB. TB is spread through the air. The bacteria can travel long distances through ventilation systems.
  6. Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) and Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is often treated with the antibiotic vancomycin. VISA and VRSA are strains of Staphylococcus aureus that are resistant to vancomycin.
  7. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Enterococci are bacteria that are normally present in the human intestines and in the female genital tract and are often found in the environment. VRE refers to strains of enterococci that are resistant to vancomycin. VRE can cause urinary tract and bloodstream infections.

Hospital-acquired infections are preventable. If you lost a loved one to a hospital-acquired infection in Des Moines, your family should demand justice. Contact the Des Moines personal injury lawyers at Hupy and Abraham to learn more about Iowa wrongful death claims. Call 888-807-2752 to schedule a free consultation.

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