People usually go to the hospital thinking that they'll get rid of what ails them, not end up faced with some new sickness. Unfortunately, about 1 in every 25 people ends up with what's known as a "healthcare-associated infection," or HAI. That means that the infection was acquired during the patient's hospital stay. If this happens to you or someone you love, this is what you should know about your ability to recover compensation for injuries, pain, and suffering.

How do you determine the origin of HAIs?

A lot of people are hesitant about filing lawsuits for HAIs because they don't know for certain where their infection came from -- and not all hospitals are willing to step up and acknowledge their responsibility.

However, attorneys have several tools that they can use to determine when and where an infection started. They can use legal motions, called discovery actions and subpoenas, to obtain hospital records that show your infection started in the hospital and to find out about other, similar incidents.

In addition, they can turn to experts who can use biochemical, cultural, and molecular testing to even determine the exact strain of bacterial and viral infections and trace those strains back to their origins.

Can you receive compensation for HAIs?

Not every person who contracts a healthcare-associated infection is able to receive compensation as a result. This can be difficult for people to understand, but personal injury law is designed to try to make the injured person "whole" again as if the injury hadn't happened. Obviously, that's not really possible -- nobody can go back and undo something that's already happened. The best that the law can do is offer financial compensation as a way to balance the scales.

What an attorney has to do is evaluate the situation that you're in and determine what your economic and noneconomic losses are. The attorney will look at a number of factors:

  • Was the HAI preventable or was it the result of someone's negligent or reckless actions?

  • Was the HAI diagnosed quickly and successfully treated?

  • How much longer was the patient sick because of the HAI?

  • Did you or the patient suffer additional financial losses because of the HAI?

  • Did you or the patient suffer additional pain as a result of the HAI?

  • Did you or the patient develop lasting injuries as a result of the HAI?

Not every HAI is preventable -- some develop for no known reason. Others are the result of things like unwashed hands or contaminated objects in the examination room. In addition, not every HAI results in significant problems, even if it was an avoidable event.

How is compensation calculated for HAIs?

Unfortunately, the best cases are those where someone has the most injuries. If the HAI caused you an extended recovery that led to increased medical bills and cost you more time off work, that can add up to a substantial amount of money that can be claimed in a personal injury lawsuit. If you are suffering from ongoing problems, that also increases your likelihood of a successful claim. If someone in your immediate family died as a result of the HAI, that could lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.

When the court awards compensation for a medical injury, the basic calculations start with the total number of economic damages that you have incurred, in the form of things like your medical expenses, your lost earnings, and your future lost income and medical expenses. Only then is pain and suffering added in, by multiplying the total dollar figure of your economic damages by as much as 5, depending on how severe your suffering is..If you've suffered an injury because of a healthcare-associated infection, talk to an attorney about the possibility of filing a claim. To learn more, speak with someone like Modesitt Law Offices PC.