Fungal Infections in Hospitals

July 7, 2023

When you go to a hospital or put a loved one in a nursing home, you expect that the medical personnel will do their best to improve the health of you or your loved one. The last thing you expect is that you will get infected while receiving care.

Unfortunately, fungal infections are on the rise in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Deadly Fungal Infections

The emerging threat in hospitals and nursing homes throughout the country is a fungus called Candida auris (C. auris). This fungus is a type of yeast that spreads throughout the body and colonizes the skin.

C. auris spreads primarily in healthcare settings. One reason for this is that older people and people who are already ill are much more susceptible to this type of infection than younger and healthier people.

Because this fungal skin infection mostly targets the infirm, it presents a serious danger to anyone who is infected. This danger is compounded by the fact that C. auris is increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

This resistance to treatment means that the majority of patients infected by C. auris end up in an intensive care unit, and almost one-third die from it. And even those who survive are likely to spend two weeks or more in intensive care.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones

The average person has nothing to fear from C. auris. This infection typically is not found outside of hospitals and nursing homes and has almost no way to spread to healthy individuals. However, if you or someone you love is in a medical facility, the danger increases.

All it takes is a single infected person for an entire ward, or even an entire facility, to become infected. And, unfortunately, there is little you can do to protect yourself or your loved one other than avoid unsafe medical facilities.

The main reason this infection spreads is due to poor safety procedures. When nurses don’t switch gloves and wash their hands between patients, for example, the infection can quickly travel from one patient to another.

If you or a loved one is infected due to an outbreak, it is almost guaranteed that there was a breakdown in safety procedures. Even if someone in the same room as you is infected, you shouldn’t get infected unless medical staff are being careless.

Consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately if you or a loved one falls victim to this type of negligence. Even if the infection isn’t fatal, it will likely result in massive medical bills. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you recover those costs.

Why Is This Fungal Infection Drug Resistant?

Unfortunately, the lethality of C. auris is in part due to modern medicine. It has grown resistant to antibiotics over time, mostly because of the overprescription of these drugs by doctors.

C. auris isn’t the only infection to become resistant, either. An increasing number of viruses and infections have built up a resistance to antibiotics. In many ways, this is a consequence of how effective antibiotics are in treating many ills. 

Many, if not most, doctors default to prescribing antibiotics, even when other drugs might be effective. After all, antibiotics are typically the cheapest and most effective option.

Unfortunately, this overprescription has resulted in infections becoming more resilient against antibiotics. This isn’t necessarily a problem if other treatments are also effective, but when antibiotics are the only option, resistance can be fatal for people who are infected.

The CDC understands the danger that is presented by drug-resistant infections. It is currently funding research to combat this problem and find new solutions that modern infections haven’t yet adapted to.

Be Wary of Nursing Homes

The most common place to contract a fungal infection is in a nursing home. Besides being older, residents of nursing homes typically are suffering from at least a few conditions that can increase the likelihood of being infected.

When you are choosing a nursing home, research the safety procedures that staff follow and whether the home has previously had any types of outbreaks in the past few years. You shouldn’t just look for fungal infection outbreaks. Outbreaks of anything, from lice to COVID-19, suggest that the nursing home workers are being careless with safety procedures.

You should be able to get this information by talking to the nursing home administration. But if you suspect they aren’t telling you the truth, try talking to a current resident or a family member of a current resident to find out whether there have been any recent outbreaks.

Fungal Infections Can Make a Short Hospital Stay Fatal

As fungal infections become increasingly common, you need to be appropriately cautious any time you are admitted to a hospital, especially if you have open wounds where infection can spread. The fatality rate of C. auris infections increases to 50% if it enters the bloodstream.

The worst-case scenario for you or your family is one where you or a loved one dies due to medical malpractice. If you have been affected by a C. auris infection in any way, either by being infected or due to the wrongful death of a loved one, consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. 

Contact us today for a free consultation.