If you develop an infection while hospitalized the most important question is whether the physicians and/or nurses: 1) timely ran tests to confirm the presence of an infection; 2) promptly began treatment with the correct choice of antibiotics. Far less frequently, treatment of an aggressive infection will involve surgery to remove or debride (scrape away) the infection. Sometimes it's critically important that your antibiotic treatment be delivered intravenously rather than taking pills by mouth.
The overwhelming majority of successful malpractice suits filed for failure to diagnose and/or treat an infection are not brought because the patient contracted the infection while hospitalized. Under the best of circumstances, patients develop infections at hospitals after a medical procedure or from an intravenous line. The question is how soon were your symptoms recognized, investigated with tests, and properly treated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that approximately 1.7 million Americans contract a hospital-associated infection which cause or contribute to 99,000 deaths annually. A hospital acquired infection can be introduced into the hospital environment by staff, patients or even visitors. Sometimes the microorganism originates from the patient's own skin microbiota, becoming opportunistic after surgery or other medical procedures such as biopsies or medical equipment like intravenous or central lines that penetrate the skin barrier.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on the organism causing the infection but often (not always) includes one or more of the following: fever, fatigue, diarrhea, muscle aches, pain in the belly or joints. The appropriate investigation may include blood and urine tests, blood cultures and/or imaging studies (CT scans/MRI's) to identify the bacteria in order to administer the correct type of antibiotic medicine of which there are many - or, to determine whether surgery will be necessary. Prompt action is necessary to avoid or cure a systemic blood borne infection called sepsis, which has a significant mortality rate.
For more information read the links below to my related blog posts.